Range of leadership styles

Figure 47.1 summarises a range of leadership styles, and also shows some possible applications. As can be seen, styles vary from being leader-centred to group-centred. Ideally, leaders should be able to utilise the whole range of styles as appropriate. It is this versatility of style which helps to make an effective leader. A number of common styles, and their application in dealing with an identified problem, are presented below.

Telling
The leader considers alternative solutions, chooses one of them and then tells the group what they are to do. Leaders may or may not consider group members’ views, but members clearly do not participate directly in the decision making. Coercion may or may not be used or implied.

Selling
The leader, as before, makes a decision without consulting the group. However, instead of simply announcing the decision, the leader persuades the group members to accept it by pointing out how group goals and the interests of group members were considered and how the members will benefit from carrying out the decision.

Testing
The leader identifies a problem and proposes a tentative solution. Before finalising it, however, the leader gets the reactions of those who will implement it. The leader says, in effect ‘I would like your frank reactions to this problem, and I will then make the final decision.’

Consulting
The leader gives the group members a chance to influence the decision from the beginning by presenting the problem and relevant background information, then asking members for their ideas on how to solve it. The leader then selects the solution regarded as most promising.

Joining
The leader here participates in the discussion as just another member and agrees in advance to carry out whatever decision the group makes.

Doing nothing
Here there is no active leadership.