There are scores of different types of leadership styles. Lists have been written which detail 10, 20, 30 different types of leadership. All of these in an attempt to understand what makes some leaders great and others ineffectual at best.
But a new grouping of leadership types has recently been revealed and is receiving much attention. A large study was conducted in 2000 for the Harvard Business Review. Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results questioned more than 3 000 middle managers about leadership and behaviours.
“A leader’s singular job is to get results,” the study says. “But even with all the leadership training programs and ‘expert’ advice available, effective leadership still eludes many people and organizations.”
Goleman and his team identified six distinctly different leadership styles. Each of these spring from different types of emotional intelligence.
“Each style has a distinct effect on the working atmosphere of a company, division, or team, and, in turn, on its financial performance. The styles, by name and brief description alone, will resonate with anyone who leads, is led, or, as is the case with most of us, does both.”
The six styles are:
A coercive leader demands immediate compliance. This type of leader wants workers to follow instruction. It is most effective during a crisis or to control a problem employee. It should be avoided in almost every other instance as it causes unhappiness and stifles creativity.
Authoritative leaders mobilise people toward a common vision. The focus is on the end goals and gives team members the freedom to find their own path. This style of leadership works best when instruction is not required. It inspires enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit.
An affiliative leader creates emotional bonds and harmony. This style works best in times of stress, trauma and broken trust. This style should not be used in isolation as it inspires a culture of mediocrity and lack of direction.
Democratic leaders build consensus through participation. This style is effective when the team needs to buy into a plan or idea. It is not the best style in an emergency situation when teammates do not have enough information to participate fully.
A pacesetting leader expects excellence and self-direction. This style works best when the team has the necessary skills and can follow the example of their hard-working leader. Used too much it can squash creativity and exhaust members.
Coaching leaders develop people for the future. This style works best when the leader wants to give members the skills necessary for a long and successful career. It isn’t effective when the team is unwilling to learn.
The research found that leaders could, with practice, switch among the various styles of leadership to produce the most effective results. By doing so, leaders can turn leadership into a science, one which can be studied and understood. It is up to the leader to choose their own leadership style. And if leaders don’t quite have what it takes right now, there are options available for them to learn by attending leadership skills training courses.
The study says: “The research indicates that leaders who get the best results don’t rely on just one leadership style; they use most of the styles in any given week.”