Leadership Styles: Dictatorial, Authoritative, Consultative, Participative

By E. Brown

One of the first leadership books a friend recommended I read was by Myron Rush. He was kind enough to let me read his copy. After I returned the book I searched for a personal copy. I finally found a used one on an obscure Web site that an acquaintance directed me to.

While thumbing through it the other day I was reminded of differing approaches to management. Here is an excerpt and list that I am sure you can relate to.

Leadership Styles

Definitions and descriptions of leaderships styles range from the very simple to the very complex. Leadership styles can be identified by how authority is used, how a leader relates to others, employees minds and muscles are used, and how a leader communicates.

Dictatorial Style

The leader or manager using this style operates like a dictator. He or she makes all the decisions about what, where, when, why, how things are done, and who will do them. Employees failing to following directions are usually severly disciplined or given cause for “early retirement” (as recently happened to a friend of mine).

The dictatorial leader traits are: all decision-making power is theirs, unrealistic in demands, uses excessive discipline and punishment, does not allow others to question decisions or authority

A more passive style of this is: all decision-making power is theirs, unrealistic demands clouded in humor, subtle forms of discipline and punishment, allows questions about decisions (on the surface) but ignores them, pretends to be your friend only to get their way

Authoritative Style

Because of the volatile nature of the dictatorial style, more leaders and managers opt for the authoritative style.

The authoritative leader traits are: seldom lets others make decisions, feels he/she is the most qualified and experienced, considers his/her views to be most valid, lacks confidence in others abilities, critical of differing opinions, rarely gives recognition, is easily offended, uses others for his/her benefit, action oriented, highly comtetitive

The biggest weakness of this style is the failure to recognize the skills and abilities within other people. They are often denied opportunities to use or exhibit their skills in decision-making venues.

Yet, the greatest strength of this style is to produce action when it is needed.

Consultative Style

This style focuses on using the skills, experiences, and ideas of others. However, the leader or manager using this style still retains the final decision-making power. To his or her credit, they will not make major decisions without first getting the input from those that will be affected.

The consultative leader traits are: often involve others in problem solving, team building, retains right for final decisions, focuses his/her time on more important activities, provides proper recognition, delegates but keeps “veto power”, weighs all alternatives before final decision is made

Participative Style

A unique managerial style that many feel uncomfortable with is the participative style. Most of the authority, not all, is given to the team. The manager remains the team leader.

The participative leader traits are: team member ideas or equal with the leader, everyone’s input is considered, leader is team facilitator, leader is coach/player, frequently accepts teams ideas over own, focus is on stimulating creativity, creates culture of innovation

Is there a “right” leadership style? Most manager tend to promote one over another. The fact is there is no “One style”, that one silver bullet. A good leader learns to recognize when and how to use any or all of the above the styles. We will discuss when to use each of the different styles in a following article. Until then, let me know your thoughts.

Related Links
Leadership Styles: When To Use Them
How Leadership Styles Affect Productivity
Personality Types: Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, and Beaver
You Might Be A Micromanager If…

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65 thoughts on “Leadership Styles: Dictatorial, Authoritative, Consultative, Participative

  1. Hey, I am also interested in management.
    How do you know what type of Leadership a manager should use in this or that situation?

  2. I find myself agreeing with your statement that a good – I’ll take that as consistently effective – leader is one that:

    – Can use any of the styles of leadership with at least competence
    – Knows when to use each style

  3. jonolan,
    As always, good comment. It is easy to gravitate toward one or two styles (in line with one’s personality) and forget to have a balanced approach. It is hard work and often, bosses do not want to do the hard work. They feel they already have and that they earned the right to be jerks or apathetic paper-pushers. No one ever said being a boss/manager was easy.

    -eb

  4. jonolan,
    As always, good comment. It is easy to gravitate toward one or two styles (in line with one’s personality) and forget to have a balanced approach. It is hard work and often, bosses do not want to do the hard work. They feel they already have and that they earned the right to be jerks or apathetic paper-pushers. No one ever said being a boss/manager was easy.

    -eb

  5. eb,
    I think many “bosses” never actually learned how to lead. They never had the opportunity or never chose to study the various philosophies involved in leading people. LOL! It’s bloody hard work all right.

    -jonolan

  6. jonolan,

    Well said. I know of many occasions when a person has been promoted into management because they were good workers. They were never assessed for leadership skills. The promotee never thought about it either — they were glad to get the added salary. Yet, after time the truth came out.
    I know of one rare occasion, when a new manager asked to be demoted because he realized he was in over his head. Kudos to him for recognizing he was working outside of his skill set. Not many like that around.
    -eb

  7. Leadership Styles

    A Leadership Style is defined by how decisions are made. Dictator: Power-Mad Boss makes all decisions. If she is a true tyrant, she often makes unrealistic demands, takes no feedback and disciplines those who do not follow orders severely. The Benevole…

  8. While leadership is often thought of a vague subject, it’s really a lifelong journey of self-improvement in the area of leading teams to achieving your goals. we can all improve our leadership through the study of the principles and some self-awareness and the willingness to apply these ideas in our teams.

  9. @Chris – Well said. It is a journey and you hit on one of the more profound truths in good leaders, they are self-aware. To many leaders run about “doing things” without being very effective. That is why I am a big advocate of accountability. We always do better when someone we trust is watching. They are looking out for our best interests and not trying to play “one ups-manship.”

    Thanks for the comment! -eb

    • i think they should as it will help students to get examples as there are only really examples of dictatorial and i really need a consultative leader example.

  10. Am very excited and highly motivated by your approach to these realities. I would appreciate if you give examples to these leadership realities!

    You are doing good.

    Thanks,

    Nathan.

  11. Hi,
    in my opinion an authortative leader can produce resluts for time being, say in a specific project but the real challange to develop team and to guide them to prosper in every field is perhaps un-known to such leaders. i observe such leaders have killing instinct and they will sideline people who differ their ideas. ultimately people will stop sharing ideas and their best inputs and will wait for the time when top man will realize who is playing the fate of his company and employees, alas! till that time a compnay may have lose some very useful and productive employees. again it is just my observation such people do not have in-depth knowledge of product or dont know the planning, team building etc but they will only use their authority and will try to work fast with out sharing objective to move being taken. it is like a car running in full speed in which a person who is driving dont know how to reduce speed in case of brakes failure. instead of lowering speed and putting car in down gears that driver will keep on trying to press brakes paddle. it is too risky to give driving seat to such person.

  12. I was just searching for this info for some time. After six hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your site. I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that don’t rank this kind of informative web sites in top of the list. Generally the top websites are full of garbage.

    • It is likely you will have some success in the short-term but not in the long-term. Dictatorial leaders tend to have high-turn over in staff. If it’s a reputable company an employee may stick around for a while to have the name on their resumé. If the company does not carry a high reputation you can expect churn. Ask your direct reports what their preferred leadership style is.

  13. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement?

    My site has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any methods to help stop content from being stolen? I’d really appreciate
    it.

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