Understanding Leadership Styles Essay
Understanding Leadership Styles
There are a number of factors that will influence the style of leadership a leader may choose, such as: The 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 How do you determine what is an appropriate style?
Any leader uses a range of different styles at different times during the course of a single day. Decisions have to be made and it may be appropriate for different styles of leadership at different times, and for different situations during that day. Another factor that has to be considered when choosing a leadership style is that the leadership style at the beginning should be consistent with what people in the organization expect. Transactional leadership
This is done by enticing staff with rewards such as bonuses, prizes, something that will be of benefit to the staff member; these are achieved by setting targets. The outcome of this will be that the target is achieved but the morale of the team may be affected with some doing very well and gaining great recognition, others not so well which can demoralise the staff and affect their enthusiasm for future tasks. Transformation leadership
This is a beliefs and values type of leading getting the team to believe the vision of the final aim. This is done by talking and listening to the team and being positive and enthusiastic about the aim. One of the benefits of this type of leadership in comparison with Transactional leadership is that no one feels like they are being singled out for under achieving as they are all working together and believe in the leaders vision, this is done by encouraging individuals values and enthusiasm for the task. Authentic Leadership
This is a leader who is extremely good at what they do whilst remaining grounded and in touch with their workforce, an assumed leader rather than elected. They can inspire their staff to achieve great things with their
passion commitment and drive, whilst still connecting with their team by showing their appreciation and encouragement to team members.
Autocratic leaders insist on doing it all themselves. They have all the power, make all the decisions, and don’t often tell anyone else about what they’re doing. An autocratic leader often maintains their authority by force, intimidation, threats, reward and punishment, or position. Although they may or may not have a clear vision, and may or may not be steering the organization in the right direction, they are not concerned with whether anyone else agrees with what them or not. One positive with autocratic leadership is that it allows quick decision-making, and eliminates arguments over how and why things get done. On the negative it may reduce the likelihood of getting a range of different ideas from different people, and can make people feel as though they are being treated badly, or as if they don’t matter.
If, as is often true, the leader is concerned with his own power and status, he’ll be looking over his shoulder, and moving to squelch any opposition to him or his ideas and decisions. Innovation or the use of others’ ideas is only permissible if it’s part of the leader’s plan. Effects on the organization. Autocratic leaders often leave fear and mistrust in their wake. Others in the organization tend to copy their protection of their position, and their distrust of others’ ideas and motives. Often, autocratically -led organizations are not particularly supportive of personal relationships, but much more keyed to chain-of-command. Everyone has her own sphere, and protects it at all costs. Communication tends to go in only one direction – up – as a result of which rumor can become the standard way of spreading news in the organization.
At its best (and there are decent autocratic leaders – see the box directly below ), autocratic leadership provides a stable and secure work environment and decisive, effective leadership. All too often, however, it can sacrifice initiative, new ideas, and the individual and group development of staff members for the predictability of a highly structured, hierarchical environment where everyone knows exactly what he’s supposed to do, and follows orders without question. Although the above paints a pretty bleak picture, many autocratic leaders are not hated and feared, but rather esteemed, and even loved. It depends on their own personalities – like anyone else, they can be nice people, or highly charismatic, or even willing to listen to and act on others’ ideas – on the organization itself (in the military, most soldiers want someone firmly in charge), on the quality of their decisions, and on the needs of the people they lead. If they’re generally decent and not abusive, make good decisions for the organization, and fulfil the parent-figure or authority -figure image that most people in the organization are looking for, they can be both effective and well-respected.
2. Managerial. The leader who sees herself as a manager is concerned primarily with the running of the organization. Where it’s going is not at issue, as long as it gets there in good shape. She may pay attention to relationships with and among staff members, but only in the service of keeping things running smoothly. Depending upon the nature and stability of the organization, her main focus may be on funding, on strengthening the organization’s systems and infrastructure (policies, positions, equipment, etc.), or on making sure day-to-day operations go well (including making sure that everyone is doing what he’s supposed to). If she’s efficient, a managerial leader will generally be on top of what’s happening in the organization. Depending on the size of the organization and her management level, she’ll have control of the budget, know the policies and procedures manual inside out, be aware of who’s doing his job efficiently and who’s not, and deal with issues quickly and firmly as they come up. What she won’t do is steer the organization. Vision isn’t her business; maintaining the organization is. Effects on the organization.
In general, a well-managed organization, regardless of its leadership style, is a reasonably pleasant place to work. Staff members don ‘t have to worry about ambiguity, or about whether they’ll get paid. As long as oversight is relatively civil – no screaming at people, no setting staff members against one another – things go along on an even keel. Good managers even try to foster friendly relationships with and among staff, because they make the organization work better. On the other hand, good management without a clear vision creates an organization with no sense of purpose. The organization may simply act to support the status quo, doing what it has always done in order to keep things running smoothly. That attitude neither fosters passion in staff members, nor takes account of the changing needs (and they do change) of the target population or the community.
The organization may do what it does efficiently and well…but what it does may not be what it should be doing, and it won’t be examining that possibility any time soon. Obviously, the leader of any organization – as well as any other administrator – has to be a manager at least some of the time. Many are in fact excellent managers, and keep the organization running smoothly on a number of levels. The issue here is the style that person adopts as a leader. If she sees management as her primary purpose, she’s a managerial leader, and will have a very different slant on leadership than if her style is essentially democratic, for instance. 3. Democratic. A democratic leader understands that there is no organization without its people. He looks at his and others’ positions in terms of responsibilities rather than status, and often consults in decision-making. While he solicits, values, and takes into account others’ opinions, however, he sees the ultimate responsibility for decision-making as his own. He accepts that authority also means the buck stops with him. Although he sees the organization as a cooperative venture, he knows that he ultimately has to face the consequences of his decisions alone.
Democratic leadership invites the participation of staff members and others, not only in decision-making, but in shaping the organization’s vision. It allows everyone to express opinions about how things should be done, and where the organization should go. By bringing in everyone’s ideas, it enriches the organization’s possibilities. But it still leaves the final decisions about what to do with those ideas in the hands of a single person. Some models of democratic leadership might put the responsibility in the hands of a small group – a management team or executive committee – rather than an individual. Effects on the organization.
Democratic leadership, with its emphasis on equal status, can encourage friendships and good relationships throughout the organization. (In more hierarchical organizations, clerical staff and administrators are unlikely to socialize, for instance; in a democratically-led organization, such socialization often happens.) It helps people feel valued when their opinions are solicited, and even more so if those opinions are incorporated into a final decision or policy. What a democratic leadership doesn’t necessarily do – although it can – is establish staff ownership of the organization and its goals. Although everyone may be asked for ideas or opinions, not all of those are used or incorporated in the workings of the organization. If there is no real discussion of ideas, with a resulting general agreement, a sense of ownership is unlikely.
Thus, democratic leadership may have some of the drawbacks of autocratic leadership – a lack of buy-in – without the advantages of quick and clear decision-making that comes with the elimination of consultation. 4. Collaborative. A collaborative leader tries to involve everyone in the organization in leadership. She is truly first among equals, in that she may initiate discussion, pinpoint problems or issues that need to be addressed, and keep track of the organization as a whole, rather than of one particular job. But decisions are made through a collaborative process of discussion, and some form of either majority or consensus agreement. Toward that end, a collaborative leader tries to foster trust and teamwork among the staff as a whole. A collaborative leader has to let go of the need for control or power or status if she is to be effective.
Her goal is to foster the collaborative process, and to empower the group – whether the staff and others involved in an organization, or the individuals and organizations participating in a community initiative – to control the vision and the workings of the organization. She must trust that, if people have all the relevant information, they’ll make good decisions…and she must make sure that they have that information, and provide the facilitation that assures those good decisions. Effects on the organization. Collaborative leadership comes as close as possible to ensuring that members of the organization buy into its vision and decisions, since they are directly involved in creating them. It comes closest to the goal of servant leadership explored in the previous section (Please see Chapter 13, Section 2: Servant Leadership: Accepting and Maintaining the Call of Service), and it also comes closest to reflecting the concepts of equality and empowerment included in the philosophy and mission of so many grass roots and community-based organizations. It thus removes much of the distrust that often exists between line staff and administrators.
David Chrislip and Carl E. Larson, in Collaborative Leadership – How Citizens and Civic Leaders Can Make a Difference, equate collaborative leadership not only with servant leadership, but with transformational (see below) and facilitative leadership as well. They identify four characteristics of the collaborative leader: * Inspiring commitment and action. The collaborative leader helps people develop the vision and passion to start and maintain the work. * Leading as a peer problem solver. The collaborative leader facilitates problem solving by modeling and teaching a process, and by helping others bring their experience and ideas to bear. * Building broad-based involvement. The collaborative leader invites everyone concerned into an inclusive process. * Sustaining hope and participation. Reaching goals may take a long time.
The collaborative leader both helps the group set interim goals so it can see progress, and, by example and in other ways, helps to maintain the passion and commitment to keep going when there’s no end in sight. Collaborative leaders also generally foster close relationships among staff members, making for more communication and cross-fertilization in their work, and leading to more effective ways to accomplish the organization’s goals. On the down side, management can be neglected in favor of building a collaborative organization. Even more to the point, collaborative decision-making can be excruciating. Depending upon the group, ideas can be talked to death, and insignificant disagreements about insignificant areas of policy can take hours to resolve. Collaborative decision-making can be democratic – based on a majority vote after discussion – or dependent on arriving at consensus, with a range of possibilities in between. Consensus decision-making is particularly difficult, in that it requires everyone to agree before a decision can be made.
A single determined individual can derail the process indefinitely. Even at its best, a consensus process can take inordinate amounts of time, and try the patience of all involved. It’s not impossible to employ, but it takes real commitment to the ideal of consensus, and enormous patience. In practice, true consensus decision-making is most often used in collective organizations, which are significantly different from collaborative ones, and often involve everyone in leadership. Another way of looking at leadership style
A different view, popularized by James MacGregor Burns, contrasts two styles of leadership: transactional and transformational. Transactional leadership, as its name implies, views leadership as based on transactions between leader and followers. The leader sees human relations as a series of transactions. Thus rewards, punishments, reciprocity, exchanges (economic, emotional, physical) and other such “transactions” are the basis of leadership. In simplest terms, I lead this organization by paying you and telling you what you need to do; you respond by doing what you need to do efficiently and well, and the organization will prosper.
Transformational leadership looks at leadership differently. It sees a true leader as one who can distill the values and hopes and needs of followers into a vision, and then encourage and empower followers to pursue that vision. A transactional leader thinks of improvement or development as doing the same thing better: an organization that reaches more people, a company that makes more money. A transformational leader thinks about changing the world, even if only on a small scale. Combining the two views of leadership style
These two ways of looking at leadership style are not mutually exclusive: in fact, it’s easier to look at leadership in the context of both. Assuming, as almost all leadership theorists do, that transformational is either better than, or a necessary addition to, transactional leadership, what elements go into creating a transformational leader? What styles are transformational leaders likely to employ, and how? Elements of transformational leadership
The transformational leader conceives of leadership as helping people to create a common vision and then to pursue that vision until it’s realized. She elicits that vision from the needs and aspirations of others, gives it form, and sets it up as a goal to strive for. The vision is not hers: it is a shared vision that each person sees as his own. Martin Luther King’s overwhelming “I Have A Dream” speech derived its power not only from the beauty of his oratory, but from the fact that it crystallized the feelings of all those citizens, of all races, who believed that racism was a great wrong. In that speech, King spoke with the voices of the hundreds of thousands who stood before the Lincoln Memorial, and of millions of others who shared in his vision. That speech remains as the defining moment of the Civil Rights struggle, and defined King – who had already proved his mettle in Birmingham and elsewhere – as a transformational leader. The conception behind transformational leadership is thus providing and working toward a vision, but also has elements of empowerment, of taking care of people, and even of task orientation. The job of the transformational leader is not simply to provide inspiration and then disappear. It is to be there, day after day, convincing people that the vision is reachable, renewing their commitment, priming their enthusiasm. Transformational leaders work harder than anyone else, and, in the words of a spiritual, “keep their eyes on the prize”.
The methods that transformational leaders might use to reach their goals can vary. They’ll virtually always include involving followers in the goal, as well as charisma, which comes, if not from personal characteristics, from the ability to put a mutual vision into words, and to move a group toward the realization of that vision. Transformational leaders may also use sharing power, setting an example, and/or persuasion to help move a group toward its goal. What style does all that imply? The managerial style is perhaps least appropriate to transformational leadership, since it pays no attention to vision. The autocratic pays little attention to the ideas of others, and is not generally congenial to the transformational leader. On the other hand, there was Hitler, who tapped into the deepest emotions of those he led, and voiced them in a frightening but highly effective way. There is no guarantee that a transformational leader will work for the betterment of humanity, although he may couch his vision in those terms. The intersection of the transformational and the autocratic is not impossible, but it usually has, at best, mixed results.
Fidel Castro initiated and has maintained desperately-needed land, education, health, and other reforms in Cuba, for which he is still revered by much of the island’s population. He also eliminated any vestige of political freedom, imprisoned and executed dissenters and political opponents, and was at least partially responsible for destroying much of Cuba’s economic base in the name of ideological purity. As with the four styles described earlier, there is no guarantee that either a transactional or transformational leader will be an effective one. The democratic and collaborative styles are both better possibilities for transformational leadership. Both allow for input from everyone, and both encourage participation in the realization of long-term goals. It can be difficult for a highly motivated, charismatic leader to operate in the collaborative mode, but it can also be tremendously satisfying.
There is an argument to be made that, because of the high degree of ownership of the vision in a collaboratively-run organization, the collaborative style could be the most successful for transformational leadership. As noted above, David Chrislip and Carl Larson actually see collaborative and transformational leadership as essentially the same. and of course the leaders qualities and personal traits are a major factor, whether they are confident , inspirational, approachable, committed, knowledgeable, disciplined, open minded, responsible, positive, energising , trustworthy,