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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