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Strategies & styles in leadership



A. understand different leadership styles;

B. identify your preferred leadership style;
C. learn how you could evolve as a leader and develop your strategy by mixing different leadership approaches.

There is no such thing as a born leader. Leadership is an acquired attribute that begins early in school and on the playground. As time goes on, education, jobs, and life experiences shape a leader's philosophy and psychology.

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A good manager might know the business and the company in detail, however, if he/she cannot inspire others failure could be around the corner. Motivated employees are one of the most important results of effective leadership. Successful leaders get people help accomplish any goal. Accomplishing goals, however, is not enough to keep employees motivated.
Helping employees accomplish their own personal and career goals is an important part of motivation. The more motivated the followers, the more effective the leader; the more effective the leader, the more motivated the followers.
There is no best leadership style. The same manager can effectively use a variety of leadership styles depending on the competence and commitment of individual employees.
Harvard Business Review study (2000) that involved over 3,000 middle-level managers discovered that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company’s bottom-line profitability.

The psychologist Daniel Goleman, which was the author of this study, covered six different leadership styles:

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1. The visionary leader mobilizes the team toward a common vision and focuses on end goals, leaving the means up to each individual. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be "Come with me." The authoritative style works best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed, or when explicit guidance is not required. It is not the best fit when the leader is working with a team of experts who know more than him or her.

2. The affiliative leader creates people connections and thus harmony within the organization. It is a very collaborative style which focuses on emotional needs over work needs. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be "People come first." The affiliative style works best in times of stress, when teammates need to heal from a trauma, or when the team needs to rebuild trust. This style should not be used exclusively, because a sole reliance on praise and nurturing can foster mediocre performance and a lack of direction.

3. The coaching leader develops people for the future "Try this." The coaching style works best when the leader wants to help teammates build lasting personal strengths that make them more successful overall. It is least effective when teammates and unwilling to change or learn, or if the leader lacks proficiency.

4. The democratic leader builds consensus through participation. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be "What do you think?" The democratic style is most effective when the leader needs the team to buy into a decision, plan, or goal, or if he or she is uncertain and needs fresh ideas from qualified teammates. It is not the best choice in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence or when teammates are not informed enough to offer sufficient guidance to the leader.

5. The pacesetting leader builds challenge and exciting goals for people, expecting excellence and often exemplifying it themselves. They identify poor performers and demand more of them. If necessary, they will roll up their sleeves and rescue the situation themselves. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be "Do as I do, now." The pacesetting style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results. Used extensively, however, this style can overwhelm team members and squelch innovation.

6. The commanding leader demands immediate compliance "Do what I tell you." This is the classic model of “military” style leadership – probably the most often used, but the least often effective. Because it rarely involves praise and frequently employs criticism, it undercuts morale and job satisfaction. However, it can be effective in times of crisis or during an actual emergency. This style can also help control a problem teammate when everything else has failed. However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

A number of other styles exist beyond those definitions, including bureaucratic leader (focusing on every rule), task-oriented leader (focused on getting the job done), transformational leader (inspiring by expecting the best from everyone and themselves), etc.

We often associate leadership with a very visible and popular role that gives recognition and status, however a successful leader may have quite opposing characteristics.

Some great world leaders like M.K. Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln always put their vision ahead of their egos. They came across as shy and defenseless people in their mannerism and speech but were hardly so when it came to actions. This is sometimes referred to as Level 5 leadership. The Level 5 leaders are modest, shy and fearless and possess the capability to transform an organization from good to great.

While most leaders develop a dominant leadership style, the best learn to adopt elements of other styles when needed to achieve their goals. If you mix the different leadership styles and lead based on need in a way that elevates and inspires your team, you’ve got an excellent recipe for long-term leadership success with every team in your life.

Get a glimpse into 10 leadership theories in 5 minutes, by watching this video:

Five keys to inspire leadership.

This video help you to identify the style of the leaders.

Learn about different leadership styles and how they influence the motivation of the team members.


How can you develop your leadership styles? Here are 6 steps you can follow:

Step 1. Identify your preferred leadership style
Consider taking the quiz

Step 2. Identify and develop your strengths
Even though you have a preferred leadership style, you most probably have other valuable skills too. You may ask your colleagues what they think are the best things about your leadership. Playing to your strengths is important!

Step 3. Work on your weaknesses
You now need to think about, and develop, the styles that you are less good at. Watching and learning from others is a very good way to learn new leadership styles. At first, when you try something that you have watched somebody else do, it will feel like ‘copying’ and may feel unnatural, but do persevere. Like an actor, you will need to rehearse your new role until it comes naturally.

Step 4. Draw on others
As you work on the development of your leadership styles, you can draw on others in your team to step up when necessary. Note who in your team has the skills and styles that you find particularly hard, and encourage them to take the lead when their style is more appropriate than yours. The best leaders create other leaders, not followers.

Step 5. Do something different
Think about which style you find hardest. Think about how you would say things if you were working in that style and practice saying them that way. Find ways which still sound like you, but in that style. For example, some people find it easier to give commands if they make them sound humorous. It is about recognising your starting point, as well as where you want to end up.

Step 6. Seek feedback
Ask others to give you feedback about how it felt when you behaved in different ways. It may be difficult to hear some of what they say, so don’t ask unless you really want to know and remember not to take it personally. Accept it and decide whether you want to act on it or not.


• Everybody can develop leadership qualities!
• There is a number of different leadership styles and none of them is the best
• Every leader should recognize their dominant leadership style
• Understanding the other leadership styles and using them when necessary helps evolve as an effective leader
• It is advisable to use more than one leadership style in the workplace to develop the staff and draw out their very best efforts. In this way, you will find they draw out the very best in you, too.


• What kind of leader are you?
• Think of your closest colleague - do you see what leadership style he/she could easily apply? Is it different from your preferred style?
• How can you evolve as a leader?



Learn about your own leadership style by completing the MMDI personality and leadership test. It gives you a free online report of your personality type and preferred leadership style, and an optional 42-page Leadership Report that provides more in-depth analysis:

Learn more about leadership skills

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