Being a leader involves more than telling people what to do. A leader has the ability to take a diverse group of people, mold them into a team, and then lead them into a energized and functional work environment. There are many ways to go about doing this, however.
Every situation calls for a unique approach, so good leaders are flexible—they are proficient in exercising a number of effective leadership styles. It is the leader’s job to identify which of these effective leadership styles is appropriate to the job at hand.
Here are three common leadership approaches and the situations to which they are applicable:
1) Authority and Conformity
This method consists of strict and structured direction from the leader, and complete obedience by the followers. It leaves little or no room for negotiation or imagination.
This style is most effective when the task at hand is one that does not call for the creative aspect of design. It is practical for tasks that need to simply be done, and not be debated upon, and is ideal for short-term projects.
2) Empowerment and Commitment
This style involves undeniable commitment by the team or workers, and simplistic observation by the leader. Of the three effective leadership styles given here, this is the one in which the leader is very hands-off and the team is very hands-on.
This style leaves endless room for growth and creativity for the team, with little or no direction from the leader. It is ideal in situations of minimal complexity that require minimal structure.
The observation and commitment style can contribute to the personal growth and independence of the workers, encouraging them to think for themselves. It can build problem-solving skills and allow a team to have freedom in their work.
The participation model is often one of the most effective leadership styles, because it involves the leader as well as the team on an equal level. The team and the leader work together to complete a task or assignment.
Not only does this style allow for growth between the leader and his team, but it also provides the team with a solid example in the leader. When team members are provided the opportunity to see their leader work, they are encouraged to apply the same work ethics.
Participation is most effective in situations that require some structure, but where growth is encouraged. This allows the team to let their creativity flow, but they are still provided with boundaries to keep them on track.
It can be beneficial for a team to work with its leader in order to have a solid example of what is expected of it on a regular basis.
When a leader is seeking to be flexible, it is great to have several effective leadership styles at hand to apply. Some styles may never be needed in any leadership situation, but how would you determine which styles to learn? An effective leader must be prepared, just in case, for any leadership challenging situation. How flexible are you?