Leadership Styles

In the first part of this leadership series, I briefly answered the question, “What is leadership?” We agreed that there is no single definition for leadership; it can mean something different to anyone you ask.

Just like the variation in describing leadership, there are many variations in leadership style. Different situations call for different styles of leadership if success is to be the outcome. Let us consider leadership like cooking a meal. You can’t prepare every type of food the same way; it just won’t work. Some foods need to be boiled, some need to be grilled, and some you don’t need to cook at all. Leadership is the same way. You can’t approach every situation in the same way or it could turn out the same as if you were trying to boil a steak.

In trying to learn more about different styles of leadership I came across a great article by Robin Benincasa, called “6 Leadership Styles, And When You Should Use Them.” In this article, Ms. Benincasa does an excellent job of describing the difference between managing and leading, and going even further to discuss leadership styles and the best times to use them.

So, let’s take a look at what Ms. Benincasa has to say about the six leadership styles and when she suggests they should be used:

1. The pacesetting leader expects and models excellence and self-direction. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “do as I do, now.” The pacesetting style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results. Used extensively, however, this style can overwhelm team members and squelch innovation.

2. The authoritative leader mobilizes the team toward a common vision and focuses on end goals, leaving the means up to each individual. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “come with me.” The authoritative style works best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed, or when explicit guidance is not required. Authoritative leaders inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant enthusiasm for the mission. It is not the best fit when the leader is working with a team of experts who are more experienced than him or her.

3. The affiliative leader works to create emotional bonds that bring a feeling of bonding and belonging to the organization. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “people come first.” The affiliative style works best in times of stress, when teammates need to heal from a trauma, or when the team needs to rebuild trust. This style should not be used exclusively because a sole reliance on praise and nurturing can foster mediocre performance and a lack of direction.

4. The coaching leader develops people for the future. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “try this.” The coaching style works best when the leader wants to help teammates build lasting personal strengths that make them more successful overall. It is least effective when teammates are defiant and unwilling to change or learn, or if the leader lacks proficiency.

5. The coercive leader demands immediate compliance. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “do what I tell you.” The coercive style is most effective in times of crisis, such as in a company turnaround or a takeover attempt, or during an actual emergency like a tornado or a fire. This style can also help control a problem teammate when everything else has failed. However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

6. The democratic leader builds consensus through participation. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “what do you think?” The democratic style is most effective when the leader needs the team to buy into or have ownership of a decision, plan, or goal, or if he or she is uncertain and needs fresh ideas from qualified teammates. It is not the best choice in an emergency situation when time is of the essence, or when teammates are not informed enough to offer sufficient guidance to the leader.

After looking at the six leadership styles that Robin Benincasa has highlighted, it is easy to see just how different leadership styles can be, but at the same time they all aim to accomplish the same thing…moving the group towards one common goal. I think we will find as this series progresses that this is going to become a common theme.

Meet our Author!

By Jonathan Hostetter | Jon is a drummer and sports enthusiast with a B.A. in Multidisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Project Management from RIT.  His primary work includes vendor relationship management and project implementation.  He also serves as subject matter expert for the global referral program.  Outside of work he enjoys music, playing hockey, and spending time with friends and family.  Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow @Jonathan_Hostet.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply