Adapting Leadership Styles for Success

Adapting leadership style to fit the situation

Leadership Styles: Choosing the Right Style for the Situation

The article explores different leadership styles, such as those of historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, and Steve Jobs. It also discusses the creation of straightforward yet impactful methods for describing these styles. By comprehending and adopting these leadership styles, people can improve their own approach to leadership and attain greater success as leaders, even in a school setting. Furthermore, the article analyzes typical leadership styles and assesses their effectiveness in various situations.

(Note: The leadership styles discussed in this article are derived from various fundamental leadership frameworks.)

Adapting Your Approach to Leadership

Having a comprehensive grasp of different leadership styles is crucial as leadership cannot be approached with a one-size-fits-all mentality. It is often necessary to adapt your style based on the situation or group you are leading. The more acquainted you become with various approaches, the greater arsenal of effective leadership tools you will possess.

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We will explore several leadership styles that you can use.

Transactional leadership is a leadership style rooted in the belief that team members commit to following their leader upon accepting a job. This style involves the organization compensating team members for their effort and adherence. Additionally, the leader possesses the power to reprimand team members if their work falls short of expected standards.

Despite being controlling and paternalistic, transactional leadership provides various advantages. Firstly, it brings clarity to the roles and responsibilities of all participants.

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Furthermore, this leadership approach benefits ambitious individuals or those driven by external rewards such as compensation, as they excel within the team.

This leadership style has a downside as it prevents team members from enhancing their job satisfaction, which leads to feelings of suppression and ultimately causes a high turnover rate.

Transactional leadership, often perceived as management rather than authentic leadership, primarily emphasizes short-term tasks. Although it may not be appropriate for knowledge-based or creative work due to its limitations, it can still produce outcomes in specific situations. Another noteworthy form of leadership is autocratic leadership.

Autocratic leadership, an extreme form of transactional leadership, grants leaders complete control over subordinates. In this style, employees have limited opportunities to contribute or propose ideas, regardless of potential benefits for the team or organization. The advantage of autocratic leadership lies in its exceptional efficiency for fast decision-making and increased productivity.

The negative aspect is that the majority of individuals feel resentful when they are treated in this manner. As a result, autocratic leadership frequently causes a significant amount of absenteeism and a high rate of staff turnover. Nevertheless, this style can be successful in particular instances, such as routine and unskilled positions, where the benefits of control may outweigh the drawbacks.

Autocratic leadership is most effective during crises when prompt and unanimous decisions are necessary. The military, for example, frequently adopts an autocratic leadership approach where top commanders take on the responsibility of swiftly making intricate decisions. This enables troops to concentrate their efforts and energy on fulfilling their assigned tasks and missions.

3. Bureaucratic Leadership
Bureaucratic leaders adhere to strict rules and enforce precise procedures diligently.

The bureaucratic leadership style is suitable for tasks with high safety risks, such as operating machinery, handling toxic substances, or working at dangerous heights. It is also effective in situations with significant financial stakes. Additionally, this leadership style has advantages in organizations where employees perform repetitive tasks, particularly within the manufacturing sector.

This leadership style is not effective in teams and organizations that rely on flexibility, creativity, or innovation.

Bureaucratic leaders are commonly chosen for their strict adherence to and implementation of rules, rather than their qualifications or expertise. As a result, team members may feel frustrated because their knowledge and guidance are not acknowledged.

4. Charismatic leadership, also known as pace-setting leadership, shares similarities with transformational leadership. Both styles inspire enthusiasm and motivation in teams, driving them forward. This ability to elicit excitement and commitment from teams proves to be highly advantageous.

The distinction lies in the intention of charismatic leaders and transformational leaders. Transformational leaders aim to bring about change within their teams and organizations, while charismatic leaders may prioritize their own interests and be reluctant to make any alterations.

The drawback of charismatic leaders is that they may have more faith in themselves rather than in their teams, which can result in the danger of a project or even an entire organization collapsing upon their departure. A charismatic leader may remain convinced of their infallibility, disregarding warnings from others about the course they are pursuing, and this sense of invincibility can be detrimental to a team or organization.

Moreover, the presence of the charismatic leader is directly linked to success in the eyes of followers. Therefore, charismatic leadership comes with significant responsibility and requires a leader's long-term dedication.

5. Democratic/Participative Leadership Democratic leaders involve team members in the decision-making process when making final decisions. They promote creativity and active engagement from team members in projects and decisions.

Democratic leadership brings forth various benefits. It boosts job satisfaction and productivity as employees actively participate in decision-making processes. Additionally, this style of leadership fosters individual skill development. The empowerment felt by team members drives them to put in more effort, not solely for financial rewards. While the participatory nature of democratic leadership may slow down decision-making, the results are usually positive. This approach proves advantageous particularly in situations that require teamwork and prioritize quality over efficiency or productivity.

Democratic leadership has a drawback when it comes to situations requiring speed or efficiency, like during a crisis where team members' input may waste time. Moreover, another disadvantage is the potential for certain team members lacking the expertise to provide valuable input.

The laissez-faire leadership style, which comes from the French phrase "leave it be," entails giving employees the authority to work independently. This type of leadership is typically seen when managers have limited control over their work and staff. Laissez-faire leaders give their teams complete autonomy in completing tasks and setting deadlines. They provide support and resources as needed but generally avoid getting involved.

In order for laissez-faire leadership to be effective, the leader must regularly monitor performance and provide feedback to team members. This style is most successful when team members are experienced, skilled, and self-starters. The primary advantage of laissez-faire leadership is that it promotes high job satisfaction and increased productivity by giving team members significant autonomy.

Insufficient time management or lack of knowledge, skills, or motivation among team members can potentially have harmful effects on their work performance.

Task-oriented leadership focuses solely on achieving tasks and often uses an autocratic approach. It involves identifying tasks, assigning responsibilities, implementing structures, supervising progress, and maintaining performance standards.

Task-oriented leadership has the advantage of assisting team members who have difficulties with time management in meeting their deadlines.

Both task-oriented leaders and autocratic leaders face similar challenges, including struggles in motivating and retaining team members. This is due to their emphasis on prioritizing tasks over the well-being of the team.

Leadership that prioritizes individuals and interpersonal connections

People-oriented leadership is defined by leaders who prioritize the organization, support, and development of their team members. This type of leadership promotes effective teamwork and encourages creative collaboration. Unlike task-oriented leadership, people-oriented leaders treat all team members equally and approachably. They prioritize the well-being of every individual on the team and are always accessible for assistance or advice.

Leaders who prioritize people have the benefit of creating teams that are highly sought after, resulting in higher productivity and a greater willingness among team members to take risks. The reason for this is their assurance of receiving support from their leader whenever it is required.

One potential drawback is that certain leaders may prioritize the growth of their team excessively instead of concentrating on tasks or project directives.

9. The concept of servant leadership is a valuable one.

Robert Greenleaf introduced the concept of a "servant leader" in the 1970s. This type of leader, although lacking an official title, leads by meeting the team's needs and setting an example. They exhibit integrity and generosity in their approach. Servant leadership is akin to democratic leadership as it involves engaging the entire team in decision-making. However, servant leaders often opt to remain behind the scenes, enabling their team to receive acknowledgment for their endeavors.

Advocates of the servant leadership model believe that it offers a viable means of progressing in an era where values hold greater significance. The values, ideals, and ethics that servant leaders possess can enable them to attain positions of power. Adopting this approach can foster a favorable corporate culture and promote team members' high morale.

However, some argue that individuals practicing servant leadership may be left behind by leaders utilizing different leadership styles in competitive leadership scenarios. Additionally, applying this style accurately requires time and is not well-suited for time-sensitive situations or making prompt decisions.

While servant leadership can be utilized in various scenarios, it is particularly advantageous in politics or roles where leaders are elected to serve a team, committee, organization, or community.

10. Transformational Leadership/Visionary Leadership

Transformational leaders are inspiring as they have high expectations for both their team and themselves, resulting in increased productivity and engagement.

Transformational leadership has a drawback in that the leader's excitement is transmitted to the team, but he or she may require assistance from "detail people."

Transactional and transformational leadership styles are both valuable in organizations. Transactional leaders guarantee reliable completion of routine tasks, while transformational leaders focus on initiatives that bring additional value. Additionally, it is crucial to utilize other leadership styles as needed, based on the individuals being led and the specific situation.

Conclusion: Three factors that influence which leadership style to use

  1. The school head’s personal background:

    • What personality, knowledge, values, ethics, and experiences does the school head have?
    • What does he or she think will work?

2. The leadership style used to supervise teachers depends on their personal characteristics and backgrounds.

3. The school principal's actions are influenced by various factors, such as traditions, values, philosophy, school vision and mission, organizational concerns, and situational factors. It is important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all leadership style that works in every situation. Each situation has its own unique qualities, and what may be effective in one scenario may not produce the same outcomes in another. Therefore, it is advantageous for a leader to have knowledge of different leadership styles and know when to apply a specific approach.

A leader needs to use their judgment to determine the best course of action and leadership style for each situation. This includes considering factors such as timing and manner when addressing inappropriate behavior by a teacher, as these can greatly impact the effectiveness of the confrontation. Understanding the pros and cons of different styles allows leaders to adapt their approach accordingly. It is important to note that specific circumstances typically have a greater influence on a leader's actions than their personal characteristics. These traits may remain consistent over time but can vary in different scenarios. As a school head, it is recommended to take on a Task-oriented Leader role in situations with high or low control, while adopting a Relationship-oriented Leader stance for achieving optimal performance in moderately controlled situations.

Behavior acts as a mirror, reflecting the true image of every individual.

Updated: Feb 16, 2024
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Adapting Leadership Styles for Success. (2016, Apr 01). Retrieved from

Adapting Leadership Styles for Success essay
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