What Is Your Leadership Style?

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Have you thought about what type of leadership style you have?

I am in a situation which I have 4 different bosses or “leaders.” Each one has their own leadership style. At first it was very confusing, but it didn’t take long to acclimate and stay mentally flexible to handle the differences between each style. The differences were so widespread, I was curious about how they approach their role as a leader, so I researched Leadership Styles.

One definition according to Wikipedia is “The ability to guide, direct, or influence people.” A great leader can accomplish all three in a stimulating, productive, and fun environment. If a person is in a leadership position without this ability, the experience is a mixed bag of confusion, fear, disappointment and sometimes anger.

According to an article by Kendra Cherry, author of Everything Psychology Book, there was a study done in 1939, a group of researchers led by psychologist Kurt Lewin set out to identify different styles of leadership. While further research has identified more specific types of leadership, this early study was very influential and established three major leadership styles. In the study, groups of schoolchildren were assigned to one of three groups with an authoritarian, democratic or laissez-fair leader. The children were then led in an arts and crafts project. Researchers then observed the behavior of children in response to the different styles of leadership. Here are the three types of leadership styles, and I have provided my examples of how the style may look in a daily situation.

Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic) Authoritarian leaders, also known as autocratic leaders, provide clear expectations for what needs to be done, when it should be done, and how it should be done. There is also a clear division between the leader and the followers. Authoritarian leaders make decisions independently with little or no input from the rest of the group. Researchers found that decision-making was less creative under authoritarian leadership. Lewin also found that it is more difficult to move from an authoritarian style to a democratic style than vice versa. Abuse of this style is usually viewed as controlling, bossy, and dictatorial. Authoritarian leadership is best applied to situations where there is little time for group decision-making or where the leader is the most knowledgeable member of the group.

Example: He is stern and strict and no one has a say in the way anything is managed. People work and produce, but there is no creativity or self-expression. Moral is fairly low under his supervision, but production is high. Participative Leadership (Democratic) Lewin’s study found that participative leadership, also known as democratic leadership, is generally the most effective leadership style.

Democratic or Participative leaders offer guidance to group members, but they also participate in the group and allow input from other group members. In Lewin’s study, children in this group were less productive than the members of the authoritarian group, but their contributions were of a much higher quality. Participative leaders encourage group members to participate, but retain the final say over the decision-making process. Group members feel engaged in the process and are more motivated and creative.

Example: She is transitional and has  not been in the leadership role for very long with limited experience, so there is some insecurity in her style. She wants to be stern and strict, but her heart isn’t in the “autocratic” style. She is learning how to establish her style but she is caught in the middle of wanting to be a strong, effective leader and her lack of experience. This creates confusion for the people who work with her. Hopefully with time, she will establish her unique stable style and other people will understand the direction she wants them to follow. She has great potential to develop an autocratic style as she continues to serve.

Delegative (Laissez-Faire) Leadership Researchers found that children under delegative leadership, also known as laissez-fair leadership, were the least productive of all three groups. The children in this group also made more demands on the leader, showed little cooperation and were unable to work independently. Delegative leaders offer little or no guidance to group members and leave decision-making up to group members. While this style can be effective in situations where group members are highly qualified in an area of expertise, it often leads to poorly defined roles and a lack of motivation. Example: He wants to be friends so he has lost a lot of leadership potential. People know they do not have to show respect and treat him/her as a casual friend. Tasks get completed sometimes. People have fun and enjoy themselves but production isn’t very good. There is a tendency for the group to make their own decisions which causes confusion, rather than stability.

Example: She complains about being a leader. She really doesn’t want to be one and would rather just get along with everyone. In the meantime, she has established a Laissez-Faire leadership style and people are not motivated by her style.

What is your leadership style?

So which type of leader are you? Ideally the best style is a blending of all 3, Autocratic, Participative, and Delegative. Which type of leader do you work with?

Raena_Lynn

 

 

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22 thoughts on “What Is Your Leadership Style?

  1. Kevin Schmidt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Raena,

    Very interesting article… I really enjoyed it!
    I found myself trying to relate to each type of management style and I think I’ve had shades of them all throughout my career. I agree with the participative method being the most effective.

    Thanks for sharing Raena!
    -Kevin

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Kevin,

      You definitely picked the most favored of the three. I too think I have presented all three styles at one time or another. I think the style is developed slowly and it takes time to settle into the ideal. Some people don’t get to the ideal, as I illustrated in the examples. Who knows? Personal Development and leadership growth is a never ending process. In time, some people find the ideal, but some don’t. As internet marketers we are so fortunate to connect with some of the most awesome leaders!

      Raena Lynn

  2. Hello Raena, I really don’t like the Authoritarian style, I think it’s because I was brought up by a person with that style, very bossy! I used to rebel as a child, and do the opposite. I like the “middle style” where participation is encouraged, and prefer not to “tell” people what to do. I would rather recommend people do something, than actually say they “need to do it” or something to that effect.

    Look forward to reading more of your blog posts Raena, regards from Julieanne

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Julieanne,

      I agree. I used an image for this post that shows three circles overlapping, each representing one of the three styles. The crossover blends the three together and the result is the “middle style” you are talking about. Thanks for your comments. Your blog is very informative. Thank you!

      Raena Lynn

  3. Very interesting post. I find I tend to rebel a bit under the more authoratative leadership. I am more Democratic.

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Melodie,

      I think most people don’t like the authoritative style, however as mentioned by Lynn Jones in her comment, “some people might need that (authoritative) at some point in their life until they figure it out on their own.” Thank you for your comments!

      Raena Lynn

  4. Nile
    Twitter:
    says:

    I think a lot of the leadership style is influenced by how someone has been raised and who they interacted with while growing up (family, friends, teachers, coaches, etc.)

    I think if most people who are leaders would look carefully at themselves and also take in honest feedback from people their interact with, they can adjust their style to work best for all.

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Nile,

      I agree. The development of a leader is very complex and there are so many factors which come into play. I also think that personality definitely has a great deal to do with a person’s leadership style. Honesty and authenticity are very important characteristics of being a really good leader who attracts people and keeps them inspired to do their best. Thank you for visiting my blog!

      Raena Lynn

  5. Lynn Jones
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Raena, It’s a funny thing about people….seems we don’t like to be told what to do. In a bossy way, I might add. You know, some people might need that at some point in their life until they figure it out on their own. I like balance in leadership. Someone who exhibits all those styles will be able to lead more effective because we are all unique and have needs.
    Thanks for provoking some deeper thought,
    Lynn

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Lynn,

      You definitely hit the target! When a leader possesses a blending of all three styles, it is actually a pleasure to work with them. A true leader inspires you to do, rather than telling you what to do. In my case, and I think I can speak for many people, working with someone who brings out the best in you is an ideal situation. It’s win win for everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

      Raena Lynn

  6. Marc Korn says:

    Hi Raena,

    Great post and very thought provoking. I have definitely worked with and for people that have exhibited all 3 styles.

    I agree, the best scenario is a blending of all 3. If you are a Leader or a Manager, I think it is important to establish guidelines and let your staff or team know what is to be expected and expect accountability, bur some decisions have to be unilateral.

    But, it is very important to engage your team and have them actively participate in the process. That is one of the things I love about the Mastermind process, where you bring different experiences together for the common good and all participate in the process. It is very important for morale and to develop Leaders.

    Lastly, as your team develops and Leaders emerge, you have to let them express themselves and give them the ability to make their own decisions under your watchful eye. You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of your team and know who can do what and put them in a position to succeed and this will develop confidence.

    Thanks for the inspiration,
    Marc

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Marc,

      I wouldn’t have to figure out what your leadership style is in this industry. It is definitely a blending of all three. You are an inspiration to so many people and it would be wonderful to work with someone offline with your characteristics. Maybe people wouldn’t hate their jobs so much if they had the opportunity to work with people of your caliber. Thanks for everything you do for so many people. Your are a real Team Leader and it shows in everything I’ve seen you do from welcoming me to TSA, lending a helping hand when I needed it, endorsements, support and being an excellent model for new entrepreneurs.

      Raena Lynn

  7. Lynda Cromar says:

    Wow I have to think about that one, I don’t think I am authoritative, but not the last one either. I think I am closest to democratic because I work well in groups and can make independent decisions as well. I like to receive input. That especially goes well with network marketing I would think!

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Lynda,

      It sounds like you have the perfect balance of leadership!

      Raena Lynn

  8. Lai says:

    It’s nice to be refreshed about the different types of leaders. It is important to have an idea what kind of leader we have in our team so that we can adapt to its standards and have an idea of his or her expectations. Through this article we can also identify ourselves, which type of leader are we? In a role that everyone who is capable can play it is important to identify its type to have a harmonious relationship while working.

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Lai,

      Thanks for stopping by. Understanding leadership styles is a useful tool to help team development and it is also great to recognize our personal leadership styles.

      Raena Lynn

  9. Hi Raena,

    This is a great article and I truly enjoyed learning about these 3 different leadership styles. I can definitely see how a leadership that would be a hybrid style between Authoritarian and Participative would be a good style to adopt. But then again, everyone is unique and have their proper way of leading so the styles can take a multitude of variation that makes the teacher unique and respected. I think the more a leader embraces their authentic self and leads with the objective to have their followers take action and participate is the best style to adopt. Great post! ~ Nathalie

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Nathalie,

      Your comments are awesome! I especially like when you said, “I think the more a leader embraces their authentic self and leads with the objective to have their followers take action and participate is the best style to adopt.” The key is authenticity!

      Raena Lynn

      PS Love your avatar!

  10. Stevie says:

    So many things are in play when leadership is concerned, not least the people that are being lead, their cultures, education level and expectations. A balanced approach as you so rightly describe it would be essential in all circumstances. Mutual respect would be a required element as the ability to teach as well at to learn from others. Could a good leader be someone who has had a great leader of his/her own?

    There are leaders in all walks of life, from the volunteer who puts on a clown’s costume and goes to a children hospital ward to ceos.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be a very short supply of leaders in government which of course is a different matter. How can our children become leaders if they have no one to emulate?

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your comments and visiting my blog. We as internet marketers and bloggers are so fortunate to have so many superb leader models to emulate. I think you hit the target when you mentioned mutual respect. “Mutual respect would be a required element as the ability to teach as well at to learn from others.”

      Raena Lynn

  11. An effective leader, I have found, is one who invites participation, but who is also competent and able to make decisions, even tough ones. The effective leader needs to have clarity about who she is and the vision for where she wants to go. She is able to listen, but is not afraid to make the final decision. I’ve been in this category, but my limiting beliefs about my own competency held me back from being more decisive. So the self confidence and ability to decide are part of my personal leadership plan right now 🙂

    1. Raena Lynn
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Steve,
      I think what you said about having clarity is really important. Also, a good leader has to know he/she is competent to make good decisions that help others progress and want to grow. Thanks!

      Raena Lynn

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