Today’s workplace is forever changing, job roles and personnel being a main factor in which every day can be a challenge. To regulate these elements a versatile figurehead is key in order to facilitate a successful company, whether the leader be using an Autocratic or Democratic influence or perhaps somewhere between these styles (as defined by Tannenbaum and Schmidt in their Leadership Continuum fig1).
Leader Centered Approach Team-Centered Approach
Leader announces decision Leader explains decision Leader invites questions Leader proposes solutions Leader invites solutions Team proposes decision Team decides
TELL SELL CONSULT DELEGATE
As mentioned – there are a variety of factors that can influence how different leadership styles are used. These factors can be not limited to:
• Team Skill Level and Experience
• Personnel Characteristics
• Task at hand
• Pressure (time, costs?)
• Our Own Leadership Qualities
The environment in which the style would be decided is dependent on the whether the leadership needs to be far more direct where set routines are in place such as on a factory production line, or whether more freedom and flexibility are needed to allow workforce to make decisions for themselves, which in turn creates a more relaxed atmosphere and usually a more productive one.
Looking at Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model fig 2 it makes it easier to visualize how Team Skill and Experience relates to Leadership styles:-
The graph quantifies experience of the team, where at S1 there is specific instructions given and closely supervised performance signifying low skill level or possible work ethic to get the job done, through to S4 where the workforce would need less supervision and be left to work themselves.
Personnel characteristics come in to play with how the habits or motivation of team (or individuals) affect their work. This behavior has been theorized by Douglas McGregor in his “Theory X and Theory Y (or Theory XY)” principle. Where a person in the “X” category would benefit most from an Authoritarian leadership, where “X” is mostly made up of people from the S1 sector, needing constant supervision and specific instruction on what has to be done. To the other end of the scale, where Theory Y personnel lie within the S4 quadrant, and may have the freedom to make decisions, and act upon them accordingly with very little guidance or supervision. S2 and S3 types fall mainly within the zone where a balanced leadership approach would work best. Where inviting questions and solutions from their team, but and also proposing solutions on best way to complete the task at hand.
Pressure, whether it be down to time or financial constraints may pose may issues within a workgroup. Whether it being deadlines to make or budget cuts which infringe on getting the best work done at the time, it has its own detrimental effects on the workforce. Morale may not be as high due to strains put upon the department, a leader who is calm, communicative and able to delegate jobs to relevant personnel would thrive under these situations, thus relieving pressure on all his workers by maintaining clarity of what is needed to be done at all times.
Each of these Leadership styles have their own strengths and weaknesses, and as such to be as effective a leader you can be, as no two people are the same in their behaviours or working mannerisms then various leaderships styles need to be called upon throughout the working day. Out of the styles we have fig3:-
• Autocratic (Leader Centered Approach)
• Democratic (Team Centered Approach)
• Laissez Faire (Delegative Approach)
Autocratic Leadership revolves around the leader liking to retain control and telling those working for them what to do. There is no consultation about the task to be done and workforce is expected to obey the instruction exactly as has been set out. This type of leadership is excellent for getting the job done where jobs may be routine or pressure may be on and would be perfect for Theory “X” personnel and those in the S1 quadrant. These results would be offset with workforce feeling undervalued at not having a say in things and in turn would lower morale. This is an ideal leadership style for what we do in the Polymer Plant, where we have to make PET chip to a set, precise grade for our customers and any deviation from this would result in complaints and a possible loss of business.
Democratic Leadership is where there is a communication between team and leader and there is a lot of encouragement for employee participation. There is communication regularly and information is shared openly providing opportunities for the team to influence decision making. Morale is a lot higher in this type of leadership as the workforce feels as if their contributions are appreciated and in turn means higher morale. The team is also more likely to get behind the ideas and solutions and in turn higher job satisfaction. Suiting Theory “Y” and S4 people it is great for gaining trust although may make decision making take longer compared to an Autocratic Leadership.
Laissez-Faire Leadership comes from the French “allow to do” and is also known as a delegative leadership. It is characterized by having very little guidance from leaders, freedom to make decisions, team is expected to solve problems on their own, power is handed to the team but responsibility for the decisions and actions still lie with the leader itself. A highly skilled and high work ethic workgroup is ideal for this type of leadership style, although leadership monitoring of work through regular feedback and communication is required otherwise things can go wrong. Gandhi was a Laissez-Faire leader as he believed people should lead by example and be the change they wish to see in the world so that others can follow.