There are a number of factors that will influence the style of leadership leader may choose; such as working environment, the task or project that is being tackled, the staff themselves and their preferred style of working along with their personal traits and qualities. There are four main styles of leadership; Authoritarian, Consultative, Participative, Democratic. Authoritarian leaders are those who prefer to lead by direction. They will dictate procedures and decide what goals are to be achieved, and directs and controls all activities without any meaningful participation by the subordinate members of the team. They provide clear expectations for what, when, and how something should be done. There is also a clear distinction between the leader and the team. This method would be best applied- though not always- in a situation when time is of the essence and the end goal is clear. This leadership style can be very useful in achieving the end goal when a situation is critical, however individuals may not react well to it as there is no room for consultation or creativity in decision making.
It is very much a case of “this is what you need to do. This is what you need to do it, now go and do it”. Consultative leaders are very task-orientated. They focus on the end result almost as much as the directive leadership style. This style differs from authoritarian in that a Consultative Leader will usually ask their subordinates for opinions and input. The buck will ultimately stop with the leader; however they are willing to listen to the views of the team. This leadership style is best in a situation where the leader may not be the subject expert. It would be prudent to gather opinions and knowledge from the other team members as it will gather information to help achieve the end goal. The consultative leader also stands out through their attempts to involve people who have problems in seeking ideas to a solution. This way, it can also help those people to develop leadership and decision making ability. Participative leaders involve all the members of the team to identify vital goals and develop procedures and strategies to achieve those goals.
This style depends on a leader acting more as a facilitator and not a dictator to get things done. Participative leadership is important where a large number of stakeholders may be involved. It can work well because allows the team to assist in the decision making process, to give input and to share ideas. It can lead to a sense of empowerment as team members feel their skills are being acknowledged and opinions valued. Democratic leaders share the decision making abilities with group members by promoting the interests of the group members and practicing social equality. This style of leadership involves discussion, debate and sharing of ideas and encouragement of people to feel good about their involvement. This leadership style works best in situations where group members are skilled and eager to share their knowledge. It is also important that for this leader style to work there must be enough time to allow people to contribute, develop a plan, and then vote on the best course of action.
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