How Leadership Styles Affect Productivity

By E. Brown

There are 4 primary leadership styles, many of which you can find within most businesses or organizations around the world. These styles are: Dictatorial, Authoritative, Consultative, and Participative.

Each of the leadership styles have impact on reforming and/or creating company culture. There are short and long-term affects of each style. For instance, the authoritative style may produce great results in a short amount of time. However, excessive use of authority will decrease productivity in the long-term. People either get fed up and leave or fall into a malaise of hum-drum repetitive tasks without creativity and innovation.

All the while, a participative style will be unproductive in the short-term. But, the longer this style of leading, the more productive a company can become.

Many leaders never make it to a point of high productivity. They give up before the participative style kicks in and the company starts to escalate. They see the initial drop in production and cannot wait long enough for the true results.

Do not give up.

Though many leaders and managers get discouraged seeing a drop in productivity when transitioning to a participative approach — productivity will come over time. People will see they have opportunities to create and innovate and their production becomes greater than before.

Three Keys
There are three keys that determine your leadership style.

  1. How you view and use authority
  2. How you view and use human resources
  3. How you view and relate to people

The more you keep control the more authoritative your style the more you share control, the more participative your style of leadership.

Questions For Reflection
Ask your self these questions to see if you (or those around you) are moving toward a more authoritative or a more participative leadership style.

– Are employees involved in the planning process?

– What percentage of total employees know the vision and goals for the company?

– Do employees feel ownership?

– Do employees feel trusted?

– Is information readily exchanged between departments?

– Is information received from others truly accurate?

– Is problem solving delegated?

– Is there regular duplication of effort?

– Is there an inordinate amount of time spent correcting mistakes?

– Are relationships between leaders and subordinates good most all the time?

– Are departmental relations good most all the time?

– How rare is conflict?

– What is the company attitude toward authority?

– Are conflicts ignored?

– Do people fear failure?

– How do employees feel toward the organization?

I hope you find these helpful. Be sure to follow the links below to learn when to use the individual leadership styles. Also, I have found that when crises arise (and they invariably do), knowing the temperament of your boss or employees is invaluable to weathering the storm and coming out stronger on the other side. (See Personality Types article)

Let me know what you think and have fun!

Related Links
Leadership Styles: Dictatorial, Authoritative, Consultative, Participative
Leadership Styles: When To Use Them
Personality Types: Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, and Beaver
You Might Be A Micromanager If…

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29 thoughts on “How Leadership Styles Affect Productivity

  1. Your statement that there are only “4 primary leadership styles” is a bit misleading. There have been many advances in the study of leadership since those 4 styles (dictatorial, authoritative, consultative, and participative) were used to inform our understanding of leadership. Therefore, to call them “primary” is a bit outdated and misleading.

    While they can certainly be construed as leadership styles, much work has been done in the area of leadership study to advance beyond this outdated understanding. Your analysis of those particular styles and their relationship to productivity is interesting; however, what you appear to be addressing is management and not truly leadership (control and not change).

  2. Brian, you raise some good points. However, I would submit that any labels for leaderships styles that are used nowadays still boil down to these four areas.

    You also make a good point about leadership versus management. This article can certainly apply to management. There is a blurring of the lines in some cases between management and leadership and it depends on the size of an organization. If your company is large enough, you can wear the visionary leadership hat and have others manage the direction you have set forth while you stay in your area of strength and gifting. Many of the small and mid-size companies I work with use leadership and management synonymously. Title does not mean a lot and people are often wearing multiple hats.

    Thanks for the comments. Let me know what else you like, dislike, or disagree with. I love good dialogue.


  3. 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.

  4. Eric, I’ve enjoyed this series and the one on animal personalities. Without knowing it, I was always a participatory manager, only becoming consultative during short periods when I was starting up a new department or working with a new employee. I have found that, at least in smaller departments, it doesn’t take long for most people to catch on and thrive. Especially if they have been used to authoritative (or yikes! dictatorial) managers. I eased people into being participants by telling them that they were not to come to me with a problem without first figuring out a couple of solutions and being able to recommend one over the other. When they saw that I took their solutions seriously, they became more invested in their work and productivity (and morale) went through the roof. I wanted time to do other things and knew these folks were perfectly capable of running their areas. In nearly 30 years of supervising other people, there was only one who couldn’t execute.

  5. @Robyn – Thank you for the insightful comments. You are so right about moral and participation as a team. This is a huge thing that many managers wrestle with. Sometimes, it is because the manager is insecure in his/her leadership and feel they have “something to prove.” If you’re a leader, but feel like you have to remind everyone of that, then you have issues!

    I was recently co-facilitating a leadership workshop and the issue of leadership and talent came up. There are many in leadership that moved there for money or prestige, but lack the talent and skills. They DO NOT need to be in leadership positions. I have known some who were in touch with themselves and knew they were out of their element — they requested being moved back to a previous position. Kudos to them. Many would be too prideful to admit they were in over their heads.


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