Different Leadership Styles Explained
There is a whole industry around the topic of different leadership styles and a great deal of academic work has been done on determining which of the different leadership styles is most effective. In the Dewey library classification system, leadership is categorised under social processes, coordination and control. So, leadership is part of society’s need to manage, organise and control its people.
Why do we need different leadership styles?
Basic understanding of different leadership styles is that they range from autocratic to democratic; from tight control to a more laissez faire approach. Why is it important to understand an organisations’ leadership style and have the different leadership styles changed much in the 21st century? Well, despite a lot of academic writing on the topic, leadership is all about people and people’s motivation over the centuries have stayed pretty much the same. We humans tend to group together to get things done and need someone in the group to get things going. Some of us like to lead, others resist it, and we have different talents that can sometimes conflict.
A strong organisation is able to use its employees to their best advantage and the process of leadership is to utilise those talents effectively to meet organisational objectives. We need leaders for different objectives at different times and this can be where the problem with different leadership styles occurs.
An autocratic style of leadership which keeps control at the top and makes decisions without consultation may be effective in times of crisis, e.g. Winston Churchill in war, but in a company can lead to demoralisation amongst employees. At the other end of the scale a laissez fare leader interferes little with their employees and lets them get on with it. This is great where you have strong employees working on individual projects but hopeless when decisions as a group need to be made or when a serious problem occurs.
Different leadership styles for the 21st century
Organisations have an interesting view of what makes a good leader, sometimes rather outdated for the fast changing technological world we live in now. A “strong” leader is traditionally seen as someone who gets things done quickly, at low cost and is “obeyed” when orders are given. Steve Jobs had an abrasive style of leadership, but he tempered his autocratic nature with an understanding of the importance of good teams. His was a visionary, charismatic and passionate style of autocratic leadership that made Apple a household name.
Jobs was a passionate advocate for his vision and incredibly effective at communicating this to shareholders, customers and staff.
Read more: http://www.executivestyle.com.au/steve-jobs-an-unconventional-leader-1lcmo#ixzz3rN3CtM8g
We live in a fast paced world and the pace of change has been so great that many are seeing a backlash to being driven by autocratic leadership. A different style of leadership has evolved, transformational leadership, in response to this change. A transformational leader has high emotional intelligence and integrity. They are often humble and self-aware, recognising the importance of bringing the team with them on the journey towards change. Their approach is to motivate their team with a shared vision, utilising other’s strengths and getting the best from them through good communication; high expectations and a high level of accountability.
Moaning about the boss is a popular pastime among the workforce and is often the reason cited for people changing jobs or going it alone and starting their own business. Conflict in the work place is an inevitable part of corporate life and minimising it an important aspect of organisational efficiency. Different leadership styles respond variously to conflict and can make or break a company’s success. The number one reason that leaders fail and which can lead to losing their job is an inability to respond to change. You can hide bad leadership in good times but when a company is facing difficulty, poor leadership is exposed. Conflict in a company usually arises when things are going wrong. Often it is the work force who deal with customers every day who see it first. If their feedback to their management is ignored by an autocratic or laissez faire leader then conflict follows. Lack of respect for a workforce raising issues leads to a loss of motivation. People leave a company they feel does not recognise their input. Democratic and transformational leaders will have their ear to the ground and recognise the warning signs.
Sometimes a company is forced to change because of competition, economic downturn, global influences and the result may be conflict as people fear losing their jobs. This may call for different leadership styles, even veering back to autocratic as difficult decisions are needed.
What is crucial is that an organisation recognises that different leadership styles are required depending on circumstances and the prevailing climate. Monitoring leadership performance, getting feedback from the workforce and revisiting the company vision regularly will ensure that different leadership styles within an organisation evolve that match the objectives on an ongoing basis.