Why You Need To Recognise These Leadership Styles

If you want to be a really effective leader, learn to recognise leadership styles and consider how you might incorporate them in your dealings with others.

Having an awareness of the possible approaches when you are in a leader role is essential if you want others to follow you.

Here is a summary of three popular studies, each of which has value when considering how to lead in the workplace.

1. Situational Leadership Approach

Created by Blanchard and Hersey (1968), who believed that good leadership skills involved four different leadership approaches:

S1: Directing/Telling

- where the leader made decisions without consultation (useful in a crisis)

S2: Coaching/Selling

- where the leader made decisions, but took the time to explain his decisions to the team in order to win their support

S3: Supporting/Participating

- where the leader consulted the team about the situation and considered their input when making decisions

S4: Delegating

- where the leader gave control to the team to make the decisions, provided support and encouragement and took responsibility if there was a negative outcome.

Blanchard and Hersey believed that good leaders were flexible in their approach and instinctively knew which was the most effective leadership style to adopt depending on the situation and the people involved.


2. Transformational Leadership Approach

Bass (1989 & 1990) believed that good leaders appealed to the emotions of others. They did this by:

  1. Increasing awareness of the task and placing value on it's importance
  2. Encouraging a focus on team/organisational goals before personal interests
  3. Activating higher order needs in others - finding ways to encourage self esteem, self actualisation and so on.

This could also be described as a charismatic/transformational approach. (Purely charismatic leaders do not focus on the individual or encourage individual development).

3. Goleman's Leadership Approach

More recently, Goleman (2002), in conjunction with Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, recognised six unique leadership styles based on the notion of emotional intelligence.

Visionary - the ability to inspire others through their view of the future

Coaching - taking the time to work with individuals and encourage their development

Affiliative - fostering co-operation through networking and building relationships

Democratic - working towards consensus

Pace Setting - setting an example to others through enthusiasm and a positive work ethic

Commanding - taking responsibility for decision making where called for.

For more information, click on Goleman's home page.


In summary, there are many types of leaders and a range of different leadership approaches. Good leaders recognise the need to assess the situation, the timescale, the people involved and other factors when moving forward.


Here are some leadership quotes to get you thinking:

Outstanding leaders have that special capacity to be able to read the capabilities of the people with whom they associate and extract higher standards of performance than the people themselves though they could display.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.- John Maxwell

If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.- W. Somerset Maugham


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