Leadership Approaches – Different Styles For Different Personalities
Hello and welcome back to my blog on leadership and management topics! Last week I wrote on leaders and managers and how I distinguish between the two. This week I will introduce the topic of styles. This has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with how the leader executes daily to accomplish organizational or team goals.
The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model
Here’s a chart some people may be familiar with if you have been in a corporate environment:
This chart can be summed up this way: it is a sliding scale of trust and ability. The more I, as the leader, can trust the subordinate to do the job, the more I can loosen the reigns. It is an intuitive process especially if you have raised or are raising children. The more I trust their behavior (based on past example) the more freedom I can provide to them.
Additional Kinds Of Leadership Styles
This article on WiseToast.com can give a little bit of a primer on many of the different leadership styles identified over the years. Personally, I don’t find my leadership style on that list, but it is not an exhaustive list (just the first hit off Google). Let me quickly highlight some important aspects of the styles mentioned:
Autocratic or Authoritarian. Doesn’t work. Don’t even try. This is basically telling people exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. The only possible or viable use of this style is a life or death situation. Even when I was in the military this style was not all that effective. Besides it sounds exhausting just thinking about this style. I would rather have people thinking for themselves and using their God given talents to figure things out. I prefer empowering and developing crew members even if they can become better than me or climb higher than me within the organization.
Democratic. This is definitely going in a much better direction. I want the input from subordinates on how things are going and how to make things better. However, the leader does eventually have to make a decision and not all input will be used in the final decision. Some subordinates will be better with this than others. The leader needs to work with that.
Laissez-faire Leadership. I skipped down a few from the article. In this one, the leader abdicates his role and the inmates are running the asylum (so to speak). Sounds like chaos but it could possible work in a situation where everyone’s fortunes are tied together (Employee Profit Sharing Plan).
Coaching. I believe that coaching/teaching/educating is a vital part of every leader’s day. It’s not necessarily a style but one of the components of an effective leader’s repertoire.
Charismatic. Again, another aspect of leadership that every leader needs to be implementing daily. It won’t be long before subordinates are feeling negativity and they will respond in kind. Accomplishing goals will become extremely difficult once the team enters that death spiral.
Visionary. It’s great when you can play the role of visionary. However, most leaders find themselves implementing another person’s vision (especially in the corporate environment). In this situation you can choose:
- To adopt the vision as your own and become an enthusiastic proponent;
- To fight against the vision and possibly lose the leadership position; or
- To leave the organization to be that visionary.
It all depends on the personal importance of being the visionary.
My Most Effective Leadership Style: Servant Leadership
My own leadership style can be summed up this way:
“How can I help you?” or Servant Leadership
When I am in a leadership role, I exist to serve needs in multiple directions. Up the vertical axis, I am serving the interests of the larger organization through my boss. Down the vertical axis, I am serving the needs of my subordinates. Not only to make them better employees but also better people (hearts and minds). Horizontally (depending on the size of the organization), I can be serving the needs of other leaders and managers in a similar role (shared experience).
Now this kind of thinking and acting can be difficult to execute. You may end up getting squeezed by the pressure from above and below. It is important to figure out beforehand so if you have to make a principled stand you can do it with clarity of mind (not emotionally). Am I willing to anger my boss? How long do I continue to suppress the needs of my employees? I can’t answer those questions for each person.
Situations are so different and unique that what works for me cannot possibly work for others. Ultimately, I believe that there can be a balance whereby the Servant Leader can effectively serve the needs in both directions.
Well, I hope this has been informative, educational, and helpful. It is my deep desire to serve this community in whatever way I can. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or feedback. Happy New Year!