Without an effective leadership strategy, it is believed, that the organizational strategies do not work. Best players in a team do not guarantee success without a great coach, similarly, work teams may not function effectively if leaders do not follow an appropriateleadership strategy.
To understand leadership styles here are three scenarios:
Scenario 1 - A Teacher gives a question to the class full of students, however, solves it for them;
Scenario 2 - A Teacher gives the question to the students and observes how students solve them;
Scenario 3 - A Teacher gives a question to the students and moves around the class, observes the students, and helps wherever required.
Scenario 1 was “Leading from the Front”, Scenario 2 was “Supportive Leadership Style”, and Scenario 3 was “Interactive Leadership Style”. Besides this the leadership styles / strategies could be based on personality traits like Directive Leadership, Structured Leadership, Intuitive Leadership, or Process Driven leadership.
Here are some tips while selecting leadership strategy / style:
A leader must be aware of his / her personality traits and those of his team members / followers to understand which leadership style will be most effective.
A leader may not adopt a consistent leadership all through his / her career. Situational Leadership helps addressing varied needs / expectations of the followers as he the leader adopts a strategy based on a situation he / she is in. In case a leader has a self-reliant team, he needs to be using a directive leadership style or lead form the front. He could instead delegate and provide inputs where necessary.
A common mistake especially a lot of new leaders make is to copy established / well know leaders. Remember, each situation is unique and so are the followers. A leadership style which may be suited to a well known leader may not be appropriate for your team. Make no mistake here - do not try and imitate other leaders.
A leader will never be afraid of trying new approach to solve a work problem or address a conflicting situation. It is quite a possibility that a leader adopts a style that is not by the book.
A leader must keep enhancing his / her leadership skills. While on the job experience matters a lot, getting enrolled into leadership courses after detailed evaluation of the program and feedback of the participants will help implementing a leadership style more effectively.
It is often said that good leaders are born and not made; however, good leaders are those who are aware of their personality traits and also of their followers. They know which leadership style is to be adopted in a particular situation. Once this is done, there is a little challenge left for a leader to become a “good / great” leader.
Leadership Styles - Important Leadership Styles
All leaders do not possess same attitude or same perspective. As discussed earlier, few leaders adopt the carrot approach and a few adopt the stick approach. Thus, all of the leaders do not get the things done in the same manner. Their style varies. The leadership style varies with the kind of people the leader interacts and deals with. A perfect/standard leadership style is one which assists a leader in getting the best out of the people who follow him.
Some of the important leadership styles are as follows:
Autocratic leadership style: In this style of leadership, a leader has complete command and hold over their employees/team. The team cannot put forward their views even if they are best for the team’s or organizational interests. They cannot criticize or question the leader’s way of getting things done. The leader himself gets the things done. The advantage of this style is that it leads to speedy decision-making and greater productivity under leader’s supervision. Drawbacks of this leadership style are that it leads to greater employee absenteeism and turnover. This leadership style works only when the leader is the best in performing or when the job is monotonous, unskilled and routine in nature or where the project is short-term and risky.
The Laissez Faire Leadership Style: Here, the leader totally trusts their employees/team to perform the job themselves. He just concentrates on the intellectual/rational aspect of his work and does not focus on the management aspect of his work. The team/employees are welcomed to share their views and provide suggestions which are best for organizational interests. This leadership style works only when the employees are skilled, loyal, experienced and intellectual.
Democrative/Participative leadership style: The leaders invite and encourage the team members to play an important role in decision-making process, though the ultimate decision-making power rests with the leader. The leader guides the employees on what to perform and how to perform, while the employees communicate to the leader their experience and the suggestions if any. The advantages of this leadership style are that it leads to satisfied, motivated and more skilled employees. It leads to an optimistic work environment and also encourages creativity. This leadership style has the only drawback that it is time-consuming.
Bureaucratic leadership: Here the leaders strictly adhere to the organizational rules and policies. Also, they make sure that the employees/team also strictly follows the rules and procedures. Promotions take place on the basis of employees’ ability to adhere to organizational rules. This leadership style gradually develops over time. This leadership style is more suitable when safe work conditions and quality are required. But this leadership style discourages creativity and does not make employees self-contented.