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​Getting the best results from leadership

Published: 9 Aug 2016

Neil Anderson gives an overview of six leadership styles and their application.

Leadership behaviour = person X situation. In other words, the behaviour you see at any given time is a function of some characteristic of the situation that drives the behaviour.

Leadership style is simply the pattern of behaviour a manager or leader adopts to plan, organise motivate and control.

It is the extent to which we listen, set goals and create standards, develop action plans, direct others, develop employees, reward and discipline, give feedback and establish personal relationships with employees.

Good leadership is key to the successful running of any business or organisation.

I would like to give a very brief overview of six leadership styles and application. There is no right or wrong leadership style.

The most effective leadership style depends on, and varies according to, the task, people & situation to be managed. All of the styles are more or less effective depending on the situation.

What is critical to a leader’s effectiveness and success is the ability to diagnose the demands of the situation and to use the full array of styles rather than relying on one or two styles to deal with all the issues.

1. Directive – Immediate Compliance. Best described as the “Do it the way I tell you” – a leader who closely monitors employees and motivates by threats and discipline.

Most effective when applied to a straightforward task. Used in crisis situations, when all else has failed with ongoing problems. A deviation from compliance will result in serious problems. When using this style, a leader will control tightly, will rely on negative, corrective feedback. Motivates by stating the negative consequences of none compliance and gives directives rather than direction by telling employees what to do.

2. Visionary – Providing long-term direction. Best described as "paints the bigger picture" and a leader who demonstrates enthusiasm and a clear vision.

Most effective when a new vision or clear direction and standards are required. A manager is perceived to be an expert. New employees depend on the manager for guidance. When using this style, a leader will give clarity by developing and articulating a clear vision. Listen to employees’ perspectives on the business. Will see selling the vision as key. Persuades people by explaining the whys in terms of employees long-term interests, uses a balance of positive and negative feedback and sets the standards and monitors performance in relation to the larger vision.

3. Affiliate – Creating harmony. Best described as "People first, task second."

Most effective giving personal support. Used as part of a repertoire that includes visionary, pacesetting and coaching styles. Tasks are routine and performance adequate. When using this style a leader is most concerned with promoting positive interactions and team development. Places emphasis on developing personal needs. Rewards personal characteristics more than job performance.

4. Participative – Building commitment and generating new ideas. Leaders who use this style believe that people should participate in those areas that affect them.

Most effective when employees are competent. Employees possess critical information. Employees have a clearer approach to the tasks in hand than the manager. Visionary style has already been used to champion a vision. When using this style a leader trusts people to develop the appropriate direction for themselves. Invites employees to participate in the development of decisions and seeks opportunities for consensus. Holds meetings and listens to concerns and rewards performance and rarely gives negative feedback.

5. Pacesetting – Accomplishes tasks to a high standard of excellence. Best described as "do it myself approach."

Most effective when employees are highly motivated. Quick results are required. Developing employees who are similar to the manager. Managing individual contributors. When using this style, a leader will lead by example. Has high standards and expects others to know the rationale of the business model. Has little sympathy for poor performance. Is apprehensive about delegating and takes responsibility away if high performance is not forthcoming.

6. Coaching – Long-term development of employees. Most Effective when employees acknowledge a discrepancy between their current level of performance and where they would like to be. Employees are motivated to take the initiative, be innovative and actively seek professional development. When using this style, a leader helps employees to identify their unique strengths and weaknesses, encourages employees to establish development goals, reaches agreement with employees for the leaders and employees roles in the development process and provides ongoing instructions as well as feedback. May well trade-off immediate standards of performance for long-term development.

Delivery of these leadership styles properly will improve the work climate and help support the delivery of positive business results.

Neil Anderson is managing director at Caterpillar Skinningrove.

Get the full story. CQI and IRCA members can read more about leadership issues in the June edition of Quality World.