Leadership Styles and Qualities

Leadership Styles

The truth is that while there are many different leadership styles, a good leader is one who can use a different style or quality depending on the situation and who has mastered the necessary interpersonal skills that need to be applied.

According to the Wall Street Journal , there are six leadership styles that leaders should cultivate and apply depending on any particular situation:

Leadership Styles and Qualities

  • The Coaching leader: The leader who works as a Coach is the leader who works with individuals, taking them aside and showing them how they can improve themselves. This leader is encouraging and knows how to identify areas in which his or her employees need help.
  • The Affiliative leader: Leaders that follow this style will give great importance to teamwork and team building. They will strive for harmony within the group and to build effective networks in the organization. This type of leader will be especially useful when their is an issue of low morale or lack of trust in the organization. The challenge here is to not compromise on quality of job performance.
  • The Democratic leader: When the next steps that an organization must take are unclear, it can help to bring in a Democratic Leadership. This type of leader will use input from the team’s individual and collective skill set and acumen to work out the best decisions going forward. This might be an ineffective leadership style if swiftness in decision-making is required.
  • The Pacesetting leader: This is the type of leader who has high standards for him or herself and expects the same from others in the organization. This type of leader will not settle for less. The leader must manage these expectations astutely, however, and offer positive reinforcement along the way or may have to deal with low morale if team members cannot keep up with these expectations.
  • The Visionary leader: This is someone who has big but realistic dreams for an organization. It’s the perfect leader for a drastic organizational change. He or she can motivate followers by coming up with new and exciting ideas when it looks like the organization is loosing steam or it is clearly in need of a new direction. This type of leader must know how to inspire and not be quick to give up on the vision.
  • The Commanding leader: Proceed with caution with this one! Unless you’re in the military, this kind of leadership can be highly ineffective. Because this style involves hardly any positive feedback at all, low morale is almost certain. This style may only have applications in extreme situations (see Authoritative Leaders, below).

Other Styles of Leadership: Authoritative, Participative, and Delegative Leader

These three types of leadership styles were identified by Kurt Lewin (often referred to as the Father of Modern Psychology) and his research group in a 1939 leadership study, according to psychology writer Kendra Cherry. These types of leadership styles are among the most referenced in business leadership today.

authoritative leader_man yelling

Authoritative Leaders are those who dictate what must be done without any input from the group. However, they provide clear directions to their followers so their followers know exactly what is to be done and when it is to be done. Authoritative leadership is most effective in emergency situations where panic might take over and high stakes are at play. For instance, this is the style often used by the army’s leaders at wartime.

Participative Leaders offer expectations to their followers, but they take input from the followers when making decisions. They encourage followers to give their opinions and ideas for how tasks should be accomplished. According to Lewin, Partivipative leaders are the most effective and are more likely to receive creative work from their followers.

Delegative Leaders are those who do not offer much guidance, but instead allow their followers to make many of the necessary decisions. Similarly, Cherry writes that Delegative leadership is sometimes effective when a leader has a group of experts to lead.

There are many more styles of leadership but these are some of the most popular.

Still, what’s important to remember is that a good leader is one who makes the leadership situation his or hers by using different styles and techniques as the situation calls for it, and who holds the necessary accumen of interpersonal skills to succeed in attaining goals.


Leadership Qualities

effective leadershipAn effective leader is someone who has a certain level of influence over a group of people.

It does not matter if the leader is an office manager, executive or the president of a civic organization, the leader has to posses certain skills and qualities while maintaining a level of assertiveness.

The one important aspect to remember is a good leader does not need a title to identify him or her as a leader. All that person has to do is have the ability to influence others for a common goal.

It takes a certain kind of person to be effective in a leadership role. There are certain skills and qualities involved and sometimes they can be learned, but there is a certain foundation necessary on which to build those skills.

There are certain skills and qualities that make a person an effective leader and include:

  • Easy to Work With: An effective leader has to be easy to work with. Others have to feel comfortable approaching the leader with ideas and solutions to problems. A good leader will always entertain the ideas of others and implement them whenever possible.
  • Has a Mission, a Vision and Specific Goals: This gives direction to the leader. After all, you can’t hit a target if you can’t see it.
  • Has Well-Honed Interpersonal Skills: Without the ability to interact positively with others, engage them and make their team trust them, someone cannot truly become a leader.
  • Committed to Self-Improvement: Good leaders are self motivated and take personal responsibility to always build on the skill set they have and maintain their skill set through personal development.
  • Able to Delegate Responsibilities: One of the faults some leaders take on is the “I’ll do it myself” attitude. That works only in theory, but in practice it can end in disaster. A good leader will identify the strengths of others and assign responsibility accordingly. Sharing the work will always be the best and most effective way to achieve a goal.
  • Has Excellent Organizational skills: Being organized is the hallmark of an effective leader. Keeping a schedule and working in a timely manner is only achieved when responsibilities are delegated and executed in a timely manner. Documenting tasks and the effort involved will keep the team on track and moving in a positive direction. Being organized also means being able to adapt to change without upsetting the work flow and making the necessary changes to achieve the same goal.
  • Knows How To Facilitate Teamwork: An effective leader will always endorse teamwork and set an example for others to follow. When everyone works together for the common good, tasks are easier to execute and follow through is more effective. Teamwork makes sure the work is evenly spread out, and everyone can work in an efficient manner.
  • Has a Good Sense of Humor: A sense of humor is an absolute must for all leaders. Nothing in life is serious all the time and to make any project manageable, keeping the funny side in view will keep tension at bay and the level of production high.

Useful resources:

How to find out your style of leadership – University of Kent (UK)

Ideas to Generate Participation in Committees – Free Management Library

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3 Responses to “Leadership Styles and Qualities”

  1. Donovan Smith says:

    Been searching for something like this for ages…perfect for my project!

    Totally agree about your points of ‘effective leaders’, it’s so true. Too many people out there believe (unfortunately) that all it takes is a loud voice and moody temperament! Nice to hear different points of views and some easy to digest info.

    Keep the great content coming…glad I found this site!

  2. Kate says:

    I find many leaders are Delegative leaders who unfortunately are not leading a team of experts!! They think they are allowing their team to make their own decisions, when often some members of the team NEED some guidance. With a team of experts this may well be OK, but for most situations the leader needs to set a good leadership example. Even worse than appearing to do nothing is then taking credit for other people’s work. There is nothing that irritates me more than that!!

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