March 20, 2018, by Carla
Six Different Styles of Leadership, and When to Use Them
By Rebecca Heasman, Employability Officer, Sutton Bonington Campus
Leadership is essential for the world of work today. What’s more, lots of graduate employers are looking for good leaders. However, there isn’t just one style of leadership. Understanding the different styles can help you identify which works best when, and what qualities you need to hone to become a great leader.
A lesson from Goleman
There are plenty of different theories available, but a good guide to leadership styles is Daniel Goleman’s, ‘Leadership That Gets Results‘. In this, he identifies six styles:
The ‘affiliative style’ leader focuses on building team morale
The ‘authoritative style’ leader has a clear vision but allows people to choose their own tactics to achieve it
The ‘coaching style’ leader encourages personal development
The ‘coercive style’ leader takes a “do what I say” approach
The ‘democratic style’ leader concentrates on giving everyone a voice in decision-making
The ‘pacesetting style’ leader expects high standards and fast results
Being a successful leader can depend on finding the best approach for your situation. For example, the affiliative technique can work well if you have to deal with team conflict. You might have even employed it during group work on your course; have you ever had to bring the group back together after a disagreement? Starting a new job might require you to take the authoritative approach. Maybe you’ve experienced taking on a new role on a society committee when a clear direction was needed to move the group towards success?
Whatever your experience, you’re bound to have come across some of the styles Goleman identifies during your time at university. These are great examples to highlight on your CV. Take this questionnaire to find out more about the different leadership styles, discover your natural style, and identify areas where you can grow as a leader.
What does this mean in practice?
Each style has its strengths and weaknesses, and the best leaders get results by using a combination of the six styles. Sticking rigidly to one style may in fact produce negative results. For instance, the democratic style is a great way to generate fresh ideas, but opening every decision up to a public forum can result in too many meetings and a lack of overall direction. Understanding how to assess and respond to the situation you’re facing is an essential skill.
For example, if your team is fast approaching a project deadline and there’s still a lot of work to be done, the affiliative approach is probably not going to be as effective as the pacesetting approach. A good leader knows how to assess a situation and is willing to adjust their leadership style when necessary. That is the level of perception and flexibility that employers are looking for.
And there are lots of ways you can practise this at Nottingham. You could apply for a position with an SU society – read what skills Grace developed as CivSoc president. Or you could apply for modules that help you develop leadership skills on the Nottingham Advantage Award. You don’t even have to be in a position of authority to hone your leadership style; any activities that involve teamwork are a great opportunity to try out your abilities.
Don’t consider yourself a leader?
That’s absolutely fine. Not everyone is going to be a leader, but it’s still important to recognise these styles and qualities to help you to become a better team player. Also, you might not be a manager in the future, but that doesn’t mean you won’t lead. In fact, it’s very likely that you will face situations in work where you will take the lead on something, whether it’s leading on a project, task or an event. Understanding the different leadership styles can help you to do all of these things more effectively.
Leadership and teamwork skills will certainly be put to the test during the recruitment process. Employers might be looking for you to demonstrate these skills in your application, during an assessment centre, or at an interview. Need help articulating your examples? We offer a range of workshops that can help you.
Interested in learning more about leadership? Take a look at magpie, our online learning platform, to find out more.
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