This is the best article on leadership styles I’ve ever read! For years I have struggled with the concept of leadership, heard interviewers ask job candidates “what’s your leadership style,” and worked with and observed both successful and flawed leaders and managers. It turns out that:
Manager and leader are two completely different roles, although we often use the terms interchangeably. Managers are facilitators of their team members’ success. They ensure that their people have everything they need to be productive and successful; that they’re well trained, happy and have minimal roadblocks in their path; that they’re being groomed for the next level; that they are recognized for great performance and coached through their challenges.
Conversely, a leader can be anyone on the team who has a particular talent, who is creatively thinking out of the box and has a great idea, who has experience in a certain aspect of the business or project that can prove useful to the manager and the team. A leader leads based on strengths, not titles.
The best managers consistently allow different leaders to emerge and inspire their teammates (and themselves!) to the next level.
And, even more exciting, it turns out there is NOT one “best” leadership style. Just as in so many situations in life, “leadership can and should be situational, depending on the needs of the team:”
Sometimes a teammate needs a warm hug. Sometimes the team needs a visionary, a new style of coaching, someone to lead the way or even, on occasion, a kick in the bike shorts. For that reason, great leaders choose their leadership style like a golfer chooses his or her club, with a calculated analysis of the matter at hand, the end goal and the best tool for the job.
And what are those leadership styles, and when should you use them, you might ask? According to Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results:
- The Pacesetting leader. This style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results.
- The Authoritative leader. This style works best when the team needs a new vision—for example, when circumstances have changed, and when explicit guidance is not required.
- The Affiliative leader. This style works best in times of stress, when the team needs to heal from something major, or when the team needs to rebuild trust.
- The Coaching leader. This style works best when the leader needs to help teammates build personal strengths that make them more successful.
- The Coercive leader. This style is the one to use in times of crisis, such as a takeover attempt, or during an actual emergency like a tornado or a fire, and can also help control a problem team member if everything else has failed.
- The Democratic leader. This style should be used when the leader needs team buy-in or ownership of a decision, or if he or she is uncertain and needs fresh ideas from the team members.
This makes so much sense. We need to vary communication styles, teach to reach diverse learning styles, and adapt to others’ personality styles. Of course we need to use the leadership style that is appropriate in a given situation! Be sure to read the full 6 Leadership Styles post, as well as Leadership That Gets Results. They ring true to me, and I hope they will to you too, in your work in libraries and elsewhere.