“I think it is quite dangerous for an organisation to think they can predict where they are going to need leadership. It needs to be something that people are willing to assume if it feels relevant, given the context of any situation.” Margaret J. Wheatley
Leadership style is important but the most crucial aspect of a leader is making sure it is the right leader for the position. While there are different styles of leaders, the right
leadership style is only the one that is best suited for the job. The most important aspect in a leader is the ability to be flexible and not defined by just one particular style. When I think of the best leaders I have worked for, it is difficult for me to pinpoint their style on just one or two of the approaches listed below. A principal I spoke with believes that a good leader can only demonstrate 2-3 different styles and maintain a sense of authenticity.
Coercive Leader: This is a leader who governs through intimidation and fear. Best suited for when an institution is in crisis and in need of a take-charge and pushy leader. I have worked for this type of leader before and struggled greatly with understanding the role anyone else played in the organization. The principal I am thinking of struggled greatly to demonstrate any other style of leadership. I immediately thought of her the moment I read the description. The lack of varied perspectives made for a difficult and narrowly focused work environment.
Affiliation Leader: Built upon positive relationships, this leader makes a personal connection with staff and uses this for motivation. Often this type of leadership makes people feel valued but can become muddled when performance is poor. It can be difficult to effectively manage employees if they feel like his/her best friend.
Democratic Leader: This type of leader governs through consensus building and makes sure that employees feel a sense of ownership in the decision making process. I often enjoy working with this type of boss as I feel that I understand the why behind a new initiative. This style works when a company is thriving but can run into issues when time is a factor. According to a study by Cunningham, et al, this is one of the most popular leadership approaches amongst employees. This is particularly true of men.
Authoritative Leader: Excellent at crafting a new direction within an institution, the authoritative leader guides with force of personality and ability to convey a vision with enthusiasm. This is my favorite style of leadership and the one that I prefer to work with. I enjoy the idea of a shared vision that is managed by a strong leader.
Pacesetters/Strategic: These leaders inspire others through modeling a desired behavior or ethic. Often a passionate and enthusiastic leader, pacesetters can easily become too involved in the minutia of every small decision. By being too involved, they can undermine the efforts of others. This is the other type of leadership style that is well liked by employees and is the favorite among women.
The Coach: Often a strong people person, the coach builds others through positive support in a relationship based approach. This style works well when employees are excited about growth and are encouraged by the coaching model.
According to the research highlighted below, it appears that the best leaders are those that have a vision and are good at gaining consensus. It is particularly interesting that men and women have such strong differences in the type of leader they enjoy following. It would be beneficial to test this theory in an education setting to ensure its validity.
For a laugh, what type of leader is this?
Do you agree with this distinction between men and women? Why or why not?
Bawany, S. (2015). Importance Of Leaders With The Right Leadership Styles. Leadership Excellence Essentials,32(9), 29.
Cunningham, J., Salomone, J., & Wielgus, N. (2015). Project Management Leadership Style: A Team Member Perspective. International Journal Of Global Business, 8(2), 27-54.