Apply the Right Leadership Style For The Situation

When was the last time you saw a machine fill a leadership role?

Did you ever admire the effectiveness of a machine’s leadership style?

It does not happen often; in fact I would say it is impossible for a machine to fill a leadership role.  No matter how advanced its artificial intelligence, it will never have the unique human qualities needed for effective leadership.

Being successful in any leadership role requires you to fill it with the totality of what makes you human.  You have to bring your personality traits, strengths and weaknesses, emotional energy and intelligence to the role to give it real meaning and create your own leadership style.

The Difference between Leadership Style and Leadership Type

It is often assumed leadership style and leadership type is the same thing.  However, the main difference between the two is leadership types are often directly linked to the personality of the leader, whereas leadership style is not directly linked to the person’s personality and applied as the situation calls for. A good mix of the various leadership styles, customized to the situation, is generally the most effective approach.

Leadership Styles and Emotional Intelligence

Goleman, Boyatziz and McKee emphasise the importance of making use of the various leadership styles as called for by the situation in their book; Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence.  In the book Goleman, Boyatiz and McKee describe six leadership styles having different effects on the emotions of followers.

The Visionary Leadership Style

This style requires the leader be a strong communicator in sharing the common vision with the group or organization.  As a visionary leader, you will get buy-in from the people and motivate them to work towards a shared vision.  You will communicate the destination very clearly; however you will leave out the details of how to get there.  The members of the organization must take responsibility for the “how to get there” part.

This style can be used most effectively to steer the organization in a new direction.

The Coaching Leadership Style

The Coaching Leader connects on a deeper level with the people he or she leads.  As a Coaching Leader you will often have long conversations with your employees, talking about subjects reaching beyond the workplace.  You will help people find strengths and weaknesses and tying aligning the new insights with career aspirations.

You cultivate high levels of loyalty by demonstrating faith in the abilities of the people you delegate tasks to.  Challenging assignments will often be delegated to people allowing them freedom to complete the assignment with minimal interference from the leader.  You will focus your conversations on the broad outcomes and problems, without getting bogged down in the details of the completion of the assignment.

The Affiliative Leadership Style

The Affiliative Leadership Style is a very collaborative style and focuses strongly on emotional needs of the people over work needs.  As an Affiliative Leader you aim to create harmony within the organization through strong people connections.  The strong focus on sustaining relationships within the organization can sometimes lead to avoiding potential emotionally uncomfortable situations.  You may neglect to have the difficult conversation to correct behaviour or to give direct and honest feedback.

This style is often used in conjunction with the Visionary Leadership Style to managing the stress of a change in direction.  It is a good style to use for healing rifts and getting through stressful situations.

The Democratic Leadership Style

The Democratic Leadership Style values participation from the group or organization.  As a Democratic Leader, you solicit input and participation, listening to all sides.  By spending so much time making sure everyone participates, you may run the risk of not taking decisive action.

The Democratic Leadership Style is most effective in gaining buy-in and to make sure you utelize the collective knowledge of the organization through participation.

The Pace-Setting Leadership Style

Pace-Setting Leadership Style focus on performance. As a Pace-Setting Leader you will expect people to achieve the challenging goals you have set for the organization.  You have a knack for identifying poor performers.  You have no problem correcting them by demanding better specific goal orientated performance. Applying this leadership style you are not shy to get involved in the detail of assignments, often getting personally involved to rescue a situation when necessary.  Your approach is low on guidance, expecting people to know what to do.

This Leadership Style is very effective when you require short-term or immediate results, however over the long-term it can cause exhaustion in the organization.

The Commanding Leadership Style

The Commanding Leader often takes a very powerful stance, commanding and expecting full compliance.  Applying this leadership style you do not ask for agreement or open the issue for discussion.  You give clear direction, but members of the organization often experience you as cold and distant.

This approach is best used in times of crisis when you need unquestioned rapid action.

The leadership styles discussed above can be applied as the situation calls for.  It is not necessary to restrict yourself to one specific style.  You will be successful in your leadership when you are able to discern the situation and apply the relevant leadership style to the situation at hand.  By moving through the relevant Leadership Styles based on the situation, we grow our maturity as leaders on a continuous basis and maximize the impact we have for the greater good.

Which of these Styles would you say comes most naturally to you?

Written by Joseph Hawking

I have a passion for people & leadership development and since I discovered my mom’s old typewriter as a boy, I have written in some form or another.
I started blogging in 2017 and in August 2018, I started The Leadership Connexion with the aim to make the connection between Business, Leadership and Life. My professional experience span across various business disciplines, including Training, Project Management, Human Resource Management and Finance. I have a MBA degree, am co-founder a Industrial Water Treatment Company and lecture International Business at Monash SA University.
I am part of the Leadership for The International Mentoring Network (IMN), South African Chapter, where I am a regular Idea Studio Facilitator and Annual IMN Conference Speaker. I believe that the highest form of living is using what you are blessed with to add value to other people’s lives.

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About Joseph Hawking

I have a passion for people & leadership development and since I discovered my mom’s old typewriter as a boy, I have written in some form or another.
I started blogging in 2017 and in August 2018, I started The Leadership Connexion with the aim to make the connection between Business, Leadership and Life. My professional experience span across various business disciplines, including Training, Project Management, Human Resource Management and Finance. I have a MBA degree, am co-founder a Industrial Water Treatment Company and lecture International Business at Monash SA University.
I am part of the Leadership for The International Mentoring Network (IMN), South African Chapter, where I am a regular Idea Studio Facilitator and Annual IMN Conference Speaker. I believe that the highest form of living is using what you are blessed with to add value to other people’s lives.