Lifezone Training
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September 09 Edition

Understanding Your Leadership Style

How well your group accomplishes its goals and maintains itself will be determined by your leadership style. Often, the leadership style depends on the situation, crisis or culture of the organisation.

A good leader uses all three styles, depending on what forces are involved between the followers, the leader, and the situation.

Autocratic Leadership
Dominating team members - Telling others what to do
Using authority to achieve the objectives
Members have to obey / carry our orders and adapt to this style of working
Discussion is very limited
New ideas or methods are usually rejected
Workers are not involved in decision making.
Group does not experience teamwork
Productivity tends to be high only when the leader is present
Democratic Leadership

Involves group members in planning and meetings
Asking rather than telling style
Empowers group for input and discussion
Promotes teamwork and encourages participation
Good at delegating
Feels Responsible as a leader
Gets lot of Respect from employees
Productivity is higher even though with the leader being absent
Free-Rein (Laissez-Faire) Leadership

Tends to pass total responsibility to the Group
Allows the employees to make the decisions
No interference in the running affairs of others
Gives little direction to group/individuals
Doesn't exercise authority over the group
A person does not seem to be in charge.
Low productivity generally depending on the type of Business
Ideals of Creative, Research or Innovative groups
Effective when:
Time of Crisis or Urgent Leadership
is limited and a call arises for urgent leadership
Group lacks Expertise and knowledge
Employee is coached into learning new skill
New employees or New environment
Leader is competent and a good coach;

Ineffective when:
developing a strong team to achieve the goals
Group is very competent and ambitious
Group is knowledgeable or skillful
Company is looking for growth and future leaders
Effective when:
Group members have lots of experience, skills or knowledge
Leader wants the team take ownership of the project
Group is motivated and can work as a team
Employees know their jobs and willing to give commitment
sufficient time for decision making
Leader is able to guide the team well

Ineffective when:
Group is unmotivated
Leader is biased
group members are inexperienced
High degree of conflict is present
Bad Processes, methods or environment
Effective when:
Memebers are high on Abilities, Skills, Knowledge, experience and motivation
Group able to analyze the situation and determine the needs
Team bonding exists
Routine is familiar and willingness to take up ownership
Leader is comfortable for his group to make decisions

Ineffective when:
Low esteem of team
Higher degree of interdependence necessary
Group members lack skill ad knowledge
When group expects guidance and support in situations
The goal of the effective leader is to have leadership flexibility, but this does not mean permissiveness. Good leaders know how to involve people by structuring their ideas toward task accomplishment. An effective leader must also be adept at assessing the situation and choosing the most appropriate leadership role to meet the needs of the situation (Klein 1986).

A leader who learns how to involve other people, listens to their ideas, and structures to lead to a common goal will have learned the skills and the advantages of being a flexible activator. Rigid, passive, or unstructured leadership results in organizational problems. The leader who knows when to involve, when to abdicate, and when to control is able to “read” a leadership situation and meet its particular needs (Walker 2002).

Four characteristics are most important in explaining how people interact:

Dominance: Defined as exercising control or influence, being assertive, and putting one’s idea forward; also as striving to influence how others think, feel, and behave. Dominant people take
charge and move others to act. They are mostly concerned with getting things (tasks) done.

Submission: Defined as following the lead of others. People who are submissive tend to be passive, more reluctant to speak out, and have little regard or interest in influencing others.

Hostility: Defined as self-centeredness with a lack of regard for others. Hostile behavior is not
sensitive to other’s needs, feelings, or ideas.

Warmth: Defined as concern for others with an open-minded approach. These characteristics are utilized to assist people in identifying their leadership styles.

Autocratic leader uses power and control as a basic managing tool and is more concerned with ends than means. Results matter.
Unassertive leader is pessimistic about people and seeks to maintain rather than change. This type of leader acts as a conduit within the hierarchy.

Easygoing leader is generally undemanding and dislikes thinking of himself or herself as “the boss.” This type of leader often rewards too easily and has difficulty readily giving negative feedback.

Collaborative leader’s goal is to obtain optimal productivity from everyone. This type of leader acknowledges people’s strengths and weaknesses and builds on the potential of the team.

Leadership Styles: Continuously Changing
The “information age” has led us into a faster-paced society with radical change occurring around us. The key component of successful leadership now and in the next century is proactive and effective responsiveness to change. Leaders who can do these things are referred to as “strategic leaders” (Reardon 1998).

Complexity behind leader behavior and competence for radical change:  Reardon, Reardon, and Rowe (1998)

1. Commanding leadership style:

Focus on Performance
Short-Term Goal Orientation
Highly Productive and Results Oriented
Learn Through own Successes and Failures

2. Logical leadership style:

Insistence on Covering all Alternatives
Long-term Goal Orientation
Use of Analysis and Questioning
Learn by Reasoning through things
Effective When the Goal is Strategy Development

3. Inspirational leadership style:

Development of Meaningful Visions for the Future from Focusing on Radically New Ideas
Learn by Experimentation
High Level of Concern for Assuring Cohesiveness of Members of the Organization
Encouragement of others to follow the vision
Satisfaction of Curiosity by Finding Radically new Solutions

4. Supportive leadership style:

Concern with Consensus
Emphasis on Openness
Operate more as Facilitators than Directors
Learn by Observing Outcomes and how others React to Decisions

Effective Leadership involves Assessing the Group’s Style and Stage of Development and then using a matching leadership style. If the style of the leader and the needs of the group are Mismatched, the group will be unproductive. Leaders also need to adapt their style to the urgency of the task to be accomplished.

Leadership styles usually combine some of each behavior in varying amounts, which is needed for leadership to be effective. This means that a leader needs to cultivate a range of supporting styles and become flexible in using them. Not only is this true when working with groups at various stages of group development, but also when moving from one culture to another. As time changes and issues become more complex, you will need to know how to adapt and become flexible in your leadership style to make things happen in your group or organization.

This is critical to being an effective leader in a world that is changing fast.

Complied by Bip Parmar - Lifezone Training U.K.

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