Six Basic Leadership Styles

More than often, the routine managers often fail to appreciate how profoundly the organizational culture can influence the business results. Organizational culture, in turn, is influenced by the leadership style which is defined by the way that leaders motivate the workforce, gather and use information, make decisions, manage change initiatives, and handle crises. Across years, there are six basic leadership styles which have evolved. Each derives from different emotional intelligence competencies, works best in particular situations, and affects the organizational culture in different ways.

  • 1. The coercive style –

  • In most of the situations, this type of strong leadership constrains the organization’s nimbleness and also dampens the employees’ motivation. This “Do what I say” approach can be very effective in a turnaround situation, a natural disaster, or when working with problem employees where a strong force is needed to bind the workforce and steer them out of the problem.

  • 2. The authoritative style –

  • An authoritative leader takes a “Come with me” approach: he states the overall goal outlining the plan and the results but gives people the freedom to choose their own means of achieving it. This style works especially well when a business is adrift as people get more liberty to work on their job. But it is less effective when the leader is working with a team of experts who are more experienced than he is as he will soon find himself losing the control of the steering wheel.

  • 3. The affiliative style –

  • The hallmark of the affiliative leader is a “People come first” attitude. This style is particularly useful for building team harmony and increasing team morale. But its exclusive focus on praise can allow poor performance to go uncorrected. Mediocracy takes over meritocracy and the competitive drive of performing better is found amiss. Also, affiliative leaders rarely offer advice, which often leaves employees in a quandary.

  • 4. The democratic style –

  • By giving workers a voice in decisions, democratic leaders build organizational flexibility and responsibility. They become catalysts in generating fresh ideas. But sometimes, if not directed well, such leadership can result in endless meetings and confused employees who feel leaderless. This style’s impact on organizational culture is not as high and would be devoid of any major legacy.

  • 5. The pacesetting style –

  • He has been the “Go-getter” of the organization with major milestones under his belt; this type of leader becomes the role model for others. He sets high-performance standards and exemplifies them himself has a very positive impact on employees who are self-motivated and highly competent. But other employees tend to feel overwhelmed by such a leader’s demands for excellence and soon start to resent his tendency to take over a situation.

  • 6. The coaching style –

  • These are the leaders who like to preach and have the “Come sit and have a coffee with me” attitude with prime attention on employees. This style focuses more on personal development than on immediate work-related tasks. It works well when employees are already aware of their weaknesses and want to improve, but not when they are resistant to changing their ways. But at the same time reduces the pace of growth of the organization.

It is a myth that leadership style is a function of the personality of the leader rather than his strategic choice. Instead of choosing the one style that suits his temperament, the leader should ask which style best addresses the demands of a particular situation of the organization. The best leaders don’t know just one style of leadership but they’re skilled at several and have the flexibility to switch between styles as the circumstances dictate. The more styles a leader has mastered, the better.