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There is no one RIGHT way to lead. Your style should depend upon the culture and goals of the organization as well as what your staff need from you. I have worked for many different styles of leaders – from laissez-faire to dictatorial. While I wouldn’t recommend either laissez-faire or dictatorial; participative, transactional and transformational leadership are options you should consider when determining the leadership style to use.
A laissez-faire leader does not give much direction. I remember one of my IT team leads who hid in his office and communicated with us mainly via email. While experienced and self-motivated employees can produce under this style, most team members need more direction and interaction. Laissez-faire can lead to wasted resources and disputes.
A dictatorial leader makes all decisions without input from others. These managers like the power and control of acting this way (notice I didn’t say leading this way). Most employees try to leave this style of leadership as quickly as possible. Dictatorial style does not produce creative, out-of-the-box thinking. It also wastes time and money due to transferring/quitting staff.
A participative leader listens to input from others but still makes the decision on their own. This leadership style is great for employee morale because staff feel their ideas matter. Participative leaders work well in situations where employee support is critical to implement changes. The major downfall of participative leadership is that it takes time, which isn’t always an option in a crisis situation.
A transactional leader sets goals and rewards or punishes employees based on their results. If the staff and manager set the goals together then this style can be very effective in reaching targets. While this style of leadership does not have an exciting name, there is nothing wrong with leading this way as long as the leader is not overly rigid in the method the team uses to reach their goals.
A transformational leader motivates their staff to achieve high productivity through communication and involvement. This type of leader keeps their eye on organizational goals and allows flexibility on how the team meets those targets. We call this “strategic consistency and operational flexibility.”
Depending upon your people and the environment in which you work, you can determine which style is most appropriate for the situation. The best leaders do not stick with one style but use participative, transactional and transformational leadership styles when needed.
Do you have one predominant style? Would you like to bring in some of the others styles into your leadership mix? If you’d like to talk more Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com I’d love to discuss what I could do to help you thru coaching or training – in person or via technology.
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