August 5, 2015

Leadership Styles

Leadership Styles

I have mentioned many times before that the role of a true leader is to assist the people that you are leading so that they can achieve their true potential. As a leader, there is no one leadership style that works for all situations but instead you need to adapt your style to not only the person, but the situation as well.

Typically when we think of a leader we tend to think of people who are bold and extroverted. However, if you look at some of the worlds greatest leaders, like Bill Gates and Nelson Mandela, you will see that they are your typical introverts.
In the book “Primal Leadership,” Daniel Goleman, who popularized the notion of “Emotional Intelligence,” describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment. They can all become part of the leader’s repertoire

Good to Great

In a set of future posts, I will be discussing some of the topics found in Jim Collin's book, Good To Great. But for now I would like to mention a fact that I found to be very fascinating was that the great leaders typically have a self-effacing view of the world and don't go around blowing their own horns. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that your strong, full of character people cannot be great leaders, it is just that a lot of them don't build teams and organizations that last, as they tend to focus on themselves as opposed to building up the people around them, so that when they are not there, the team or company can function just as well.

This may seem kind of strange as if the team can function without a leader, then what is their point? Well, what tends to happen to leaders in the great organizations is that they start to champion and support the teams, create the best environment for them to work in and allowing them room so that they can achieve the potential and be the best they can be. In doing this they not only tend to have output of the project be great than the sum of its parts, but they create teams and organizations last long after they have left.


Like I said earlier, you need to be able to adapt to each persons individual personality, which again leads me to Insights. Go give you a quick overview, there are four main personality types and each type needs to be approached differently.

  • Fiery Red
    Fiery reds tend to be focused on results and objectives. They like to have control of a situation and often have authoritative and assertive mannerisms. They hate situations where things just plod along and never get completed, so they are ideally situated in teams where you need to get the task done.

  • Cool Blue
    These people are the opposite of the sunshine yellow and don't like the limelight. Instead they are very compliant and task orientated and what motivates them is to fix issues and make sure that everything is running precisely. They are your classic problems solvers and enjoy finding solutions to issues, that is why I say that many software developers usually have some blue in them.

  • Earth Green
    They want you to show them that you care and do look out for them. They don't like sudden change and will think that their world is falling apart. To cater for this, you need to spend some one-on-one time with them every week or so as they will start to know that you care about them.

  • Sunshine Yellow
    These type of people like to be very social and don't like to be put in isolation or quiet areas. They like to be in the limelight and this is often what motivates them.

Lewin's Leadership Styles

In the 1930's, Psychologist Kurt Lewin came up with three main styles to leadership, which are as follows:

  • Autocratic
    These people tend to make decisions without the assistance, or consultation, of their team. This style is valuable when you need to make a decision quickly or when you need someone to handle a large-scale coordination over many groups in an organization. However, if it is used in environments where members wish to share and participate, you will find it can lead to a large amount of staff turnover as people often feel demoralized.

  • Democratic
    Democratic leaders make the final decisions, however they do include their team during the the decision-making process. You will often see them encouraging creativity and the people that work there are highly engaged. This style often results in team members being highly satisfied and productive. However, this style doesn't work in area where a lot of guidance is required and you often find yourself having to make decisions for people.

  • Laissez-faire
    Laissez-faire means without interfering and as such these leaders are often give their team members the freedom on how to do the work and what deadlines to set. They are just there to provide support and don't get involved. This type of leadership only works in areas where people manage their time well and have the knowledge and skills to work effectively. If done correctly, this can lead to extremely high levels of job satisfaction, but like I said, you need to have the disciplined, right people in the team.

So as you can see there is no leadership style that dominates and you need to be adaptable and cater for the person and situation at hand. Just remember, there is no one style to rule them all.

Until next time...keep learning!