Leaders may adopt several styles according to what is most appropriate in a given situation.
Explain how different leadership styles may be adopted according to the demands of a given circumstance
There are five primary leadership styles: engaging, authoritative, laissez-faire, participative, and transformational. All five styles can be effectively used in the appropriate circumstances.
An engaging style of leadership involves reaching out to employees and understanding their concerns and working situations.
Under the autocratic leadership style, all decision-making powers are centralized in the leader. Leaders do not entertain any suggestions or initiatives from subordinates.
A person using a laissez-faire style of leadership does not provide direction, instead leaving the group to fend for itself. Subordinates are given a free hand in deciding their own policies and methods.
A participative or democratic style of leadership involves the leader's sharing decision-making authority with group members while also promoting the interests of group members and practicing social equality.
French term literally meaning "let [them] do,"; it also broadly implies "let it be," "let them do as they will," or "leave it alone."
Finding the Right Style of Leadership
A leader can take a number of different approaches to leading and managing an organization. A leader's style of providing direction, setting strategy, and motivating people is the result of his or her personality, values, training, and experience. For example, a leader with a laid-back personality may lead with a less formal style that encourages autonomy and creativity.
Engaging styles of leadership involve reaching out to employees and understanding their concerns and working situations. Dr. Stephen L. Cohen, the senior vice president for Right Management's Leadership Development Center of Excellence, describes the engaging leadership style as communicating relevant information to employees and involving them in important decisions. This leadership style can help retain employees for the long term.
Under the autocratic leadership style, decision-making power is centralized in the leader. Leaders do not entertain any suggestions or initiatives from subordinates. The autocratic management is effective for quick decision making but is generally not successful in fostering employee engagement or maintaining worker satisfaction.
A person may be in a leadership position without providing clear direction, leaving the group to choose its own path in achieving aims. Subordinates are given a free hand in deciding their own policies and methods. Laissez-faire is most effective when workers have the skills to work independently, are self-motivated, and will be held accountable for results.
Participative or Democratic Leadership
A participative or democratic style of leadership involves the leader's sharing decision- making authority with group members. This approach values the perspectives and interests of individual group members while also contributing to teamcohesion. Participative leadership can help employees feel more invested in decision outcomes and more committed to the choices because they have a say in them.
The transformational leadership style emphasizes motivation and morale to inspire followers to change their behavior in service of a greater good. The concept was initially introduced by James MacGregor Burns. According to Burns, transformational leadership is when "leaders and followers make each other advance to a higher level of morality and motivation." Researcher Bernard M. Bass used Burns's ideas to develop his own theory of transformational leadership. Bass clarified the definition to emphasize that transformational leadership is distinguished by the effect it has on followers.
When to Use Different Styles
Different situations call for particular leadership styles. Under intense time constraints, when there is little room to engage in long discussions that seek consensus, a more directive, top-down style may be appropriate. For a highly motivated and cohesive team with a homogeneous level of expertise, a democratic leadership style may be more effective. Similarly, a participative leadership style may be most appropriate for decisions that will require changes in behavior from a large group of people.
Each style of leadership can be effective if matched with the needs of the situation and used by a skilled leader who can adopt a deft approach. The most effective leaders are adept at several styles and able to choose the one most likely to help the organization achieve its objectives.