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?
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