It’s guest post Monday! This post is by Teoddy Baldomaro who is a business writer for Piton-Global. You can follow him on Twitter. This is a longer post than normal but I chose to feature it because of the great topic, leadership types. If you would like to be featured on my blog click here.
The recipe that makes a great leader is not a particular guarantee, especially in business. It’s generally recognized, however, that great business leaders possess the savvy, the expertise, and the courage to do the right thing for their company. These skills are tempered by an all-too human relate ability and humility that allows their team members to empathize with them, as well as excellent organizational skills for effective logistical work.
Still, it’s not as cut-and-dry as we make it out to be here. In this article we’ll examine the various kinds of leaders that all have their strengths in different situations.
Leaders that follow this style follow the official rules to the letter, and typically request (or demand) that their subordinates do so as well. They are often sticklers for protocol, which is invaluable in high-risk situations such as banking, or in factories with dangerous equipment.
Bureaucratic leadership does have its caveats, though. Often, the staff with whom this style is enforced are demoralized by their boss’s inflexibility. Furthermore, for the group itself, the inflexibility can be a weakness when external circumstances change the situation.
Autocratic leaders take the bureaucratic style to the extreme—it’s not just the rules of the company that the staff must follow, but the leader’s arbitrary rules as well.
Autocrats tend to go by the philosophy “my way or the highway,” and team members or employees have little to no chances to voice their criticism or suggestions that could be helpful to the company as a whole. People dislike being explicitly treated as subordinates—this system is usually followed by mass staff resignations.
Furthermore, because only one voice–the leader’s–is heard, the benefits from working as a group are nullified. Still, for situations such as construction work, this style is particularly effective because total control is critical for success.
Democratic or participative leadership
Democratic leaders still have the last word on major decisions, but they also ask their teammates for their input. Thus, employees or subordinates will feel as if their opinion is valued, since they were given access to the decision-making process.
Furthermore, this will also grant the team members valuable experience, thereby improving their skill set. With some semblance of control in their hands, their confidence is improved as well. Because of the democratic (and therefore slower) workflow, this kind of approach is best suited to situations where the quality of the product outweighs the speed at which it is produced.
A hands-off leader will leave their employees to their own devices, showing that they have utmost faith and trust in their team. Also known as laissez-faire leadership, this works best for leaders of highly skilled and motivated subordinates, such as that in a research environment or when all members of a team are peers.
However, if not managed well, this is likely to lead to a complete lack of direction, and perhaps even anarchy in the workplace. This can be managed by regular status reports and communication.
This is not a style of leadership per se, but is a fairly recent phenomenon in workplaces where de jure leaders are often absent, such as call centers.
One situation in the Philippines called for customer service representatives to address the issues of a particularly petulant customer. Lacking sufficient documentation on the issue, one agent determined the protocol to follow, resulting in the satisfaction of the caller.
Emergent leadership is best suited for temporary situations such as the above, as well as others like jury duty or directionless staff meetings.
Facilitative leaders are among the most subtle and unassuming of leaders. Instead of giving directives and making their authority felt, they take the stance of a member of the group, offering suggestions to direct the course of action. This helps the other teammates feel empowered, leading to a greater sense of accomplishment.
Transactional leadership operates on the quid pro quo philosophy—actions merit corresponding rewards or punishment. This works best when the line between leader and subordinate is clearly delineated, and provides employees ample motivation to work.
Servant leaders follow a style similar to facilitative leadership, but they are even more integrated with the team. They assume the status of leader just by doing great work on behalf of the group, and are then recognized for their efforts. Servant leaders become so because of their work ethic and values, but may be superseded by more traditional leaders exerting their power.
Following the tenets of both servant and facilitative leadership, quiet leaders focus on enabling members of their team, which is composed of colleagues and peers. This approach is also described as “leading from behind,” and the quiet leader is known as the “first among equals.”
This works best in true democratic situations, such as members of the faculty in a university where the department chair is often most effective when practicing quiet leadership.
Task-oriented leaders are focused completely on the task at hand, often to the detriment of their employees or teammates. As such, this veers close to inadvertent autocracy. However, this is less a constant philosophy and more of a response to circumstances, such as a looming deadline. This type of leadership is perfect for crunch time scenarios.
People-oriented or relations-oriented leadership
The converse of task-oriented leadership, this focuses on supporting the people on the team, leading to effective work as a group and facilitating collaboration. This could result in a lack of focus, however, and leaders can resort to task-oriented leadership in high-pressure situations.
Transformational leaders focus on the “big picture,” and are exceptionally skilled at sharing their expansive vision with everyone. Truly transformational leaders are able to convert their employees to their cause, motivating them to work. However, because of their focus on the long-term, they require assistants to organize the smaller details.
Situational leadership is not defined, but is a contextual approach utilizing the methods detailed above. Situational leaders are familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each leadership style, and know the right situations in which to use them. Situational leaders are also aware of the goals of the group, as well as the individual members of the team, so that any approach they take at any time is calculated to be the most effective.
Question: Now that we’ve comprehensively covered the various leadership approaches, which type do you think would suit you and your team’s work environment?