Leadership style

leadersip1.jpgIf we assume that there were only two aspects in the organization, that is people and tasks; leadership style is basically talking about the degree of which you are taking into account the human aspect and the task aspect in managing your unit or department. Are you more human oriented, or more tasks oriented, or equally concerned with both aspects, and just ignoring both aspects? There is no single style which is better than the other, nor is one particular style that works for all situation. A given style only works effectively for a certain situation. Different employees require different management style.

The objective of leadership training is generally to build a habit of watching your own style, to identify your subordinates, and to apply the appropriate management style after diagnosing the situation. Managers tend to have their own preferred style. However, their style may switch from one style to another, depending on: size of organization, technology used, maturity of subordinates, and social and cultural environment they are working in. Experience and training help us in adjusting our style to the new organizational environment and condition of our followers.

Using “human relationship-task approach” William Redin introduced a model of leadership style containing four basic types, namely:

1. High relationship orientation, high task orientation or called INTEGRATED TYPE.

2. High relationship orientation, low task orientation or called RELATED TYPE.

3. Low relationship orientation, high task orientation or DEDICATED TYPE.

4. Low relationship orientation, low task orientation called SEPARATED TYPE.

Further, by measuring the level of effectiveness of each style Redin developed this basic model into eight leadership styles. The modified model is called “The 3-D Theory of Managerial Effectiveness.”

Less effective

Basic types

More Effective









Benevolent Autocratic




DESERTER: Withdrawal versus Involvement

This is essentially a hand-off or laisser-faire approach : avoidance of any involvement or intervention which would upset the status; assuming a neutral attitude toward what is going on during the day; looking the other way to avoid enforcing rules; keeping out of the way of both supervisors and subordinates; avoidance of change and planning. The activities undertaken (or initiated) by managers who use this approach tend to be defensive in nature. People who achieve high scores may be adverse to managerial tasks or may have begun to lose interest in such tasks. This does not necessarily mean they are bad managers; they just try to maintain the status quo and avoid “rocking the boat”.

BUREUCRATIC: Legalistic, Procedural, rational

This is a legalistic and procedural approach: adherence to rules and procedures; acceptance of hierarchy of authority; preference of formal channels of communication. High scorers tend to be systematic. They function at their best in well structured situations where policies are clear, roles are well defined and criteria of performance are objective and universally applied. Because they insist on rational systems, these managers may be seen as autocratic, rigid or fussy. Because of their dependence on rules and procedures, they are hardly distinguished from autocratic managers.

MISSIONARY: Affective support.

This is an affective (supportive) approach. It emphasizes congeniality and positive climate in the work place. High scorers are sensitive to subordinates’ personal needs and concerns. They try to keep people happy by giving the most they can. Supportive behavior represents the positive component of this style. It has, however, a defensive counterpart. They may avoid or smooth over conflict, feel uncomfortable enforcing controls and find difficulty denying requests or making candid appraisals.

DEVELOPER: Supportive, Objective, and Didactic.

This is the objective counterpart of the missionary style. Objective in a sense that concern for people is expressed professionally: subordinates are allowed to participate in decision making and are given opportunities to express their views and to develop their potential. Their contribution is recognized and attention is given to their development. High scorers are likely to have optimistic beliefs about people wanting to work and produce. Their approach to subordinates is collegial: they like to share their knowledge and expertise with their subordinates and take pride in discovering and promoting talent.

AUTOCRAT: Directive, Distant, Reserved.

This is a directive and controlling approach. Concern for production and output outweighs the concern for workers and their relationship. Managers who score high tend to be formal. They assign tasks to subordinates and watch implementation closely. Errors are not tolerated, and deviation from stated objectives or directives is forbidden. They make unilateral decisions and feel no need to explain or justify them. They minimize interaction with people, or limit communication to the essential demand of the task at hand. They believe in individual responsibility and consider group meetings a waste of time. They tend to be formal, straightforward and critical. For that reason, they are likely to be perceived as cold and arbitrary, particularly by subordinates who have strong need for support and reassurance.

BENEVOLENT AUTOCRAT: Directive-involved, Prescriptive, Interventionist.

This is the communicative counterpart of the autocratic style. It is still directive and interventionist. High scorers are seen as task masters who devote themselves comfortably to the accomplishment of production objectives. They enjoy tackling operational problems and may have less patience dealing with problems of human relation. They keep in touch with subordinates, instructing them, answering their questions and helping them with operational problems. They structure daily work, set objectives give orders or delegate with firm accountability. They would not hesitate to discipline or reprimand, but do that fairly and without antagonizing their subordinates. They meet group needs but ignore one-to-one personal relationship.

COMPROMISE: Vacillation, Suppressed interactive.

Express appreciation of both human relations orientation and task orientation. They however admit to difficulties in integrating them. Therefore they may vacillate between task requirements and demand for human relations. In order to alleviate immediate pressures, they may resort to compromise solutions or expediency. They may be sensitive to reality considerations which stand in the way, and willing to delay action for whatever reason, internal or external. Their realistic assessment of situations may explain why they do not use freely the approach they actually prefer, that is, the Executive approach.

EXECUTIVE: Consultative, Interactive, Group problem solving.

This approach integrates task orientation and human relations orientation in response to realistic demand. It is best described as consultative, interactive, and problem solving approach. This approach is called for in managing operations which require exploration of alternative solutions, pooling different resources, and integrating opposing perspectives. They favor a team approach in problem solving, planning and decision making. They stimulate communication among subordinates, thus obtain collective ideas and suggestions. Managers who use this approach are usually perceived as good motivators who tend to deal openly with conflict and who try to obtain collective commitment.

Continuum leadership behavior

Continuum leadership behavior discusses the different patterns of possible leadership behavior which managers can choose from in relating to their subordinates. The patterns may range from the boss-centered leadership where managers fully exercise their authority in making decision to the subordinate-centered leadership where freedom is given to subordinates to make decision. The following are statements commonly made by managers which reflect their leadership behavior:

n I put most problems into my group’s hands and leave it to them to carry the ball from there. I serve merely as catalyst, mirroring back the people’s thoughts and feelings so that they can better understand them.

n It’s foolish to make decisions oneself on matters that affect people. I always talk things over with my subordinates, but I make it clear them that I’m the one who has to have the final say.

n Once I have decided on a course of action, I do my best to sell my ideas to my employees.

n I am being paid to lead. If I let a lot of other people make decisions I should be making, then I’m not worth my salt.

n I believe in getting things done. I can’t waste time calling meetings. Someone has to call the shots around, and I think it should be me.


Each of these statements represents a point of view about “good leadership”. Considerable experience, factual data, and theoretical principles could be cited to support each statement, even though they seem to be inconsistent when placed together. Such contradictions point up the dilemma in which modern managers frequently find themselves.

Range of Behavior

Each manager’s behavior is related to the degree of authority used by the boss and to amount of freedom available to subordinates in reaching decisions.

  1. The manager makes the decision and announces it.

In this case the boss identifies a problem, considers alternative solutions, chooses on of them, and reports the decision to the subordinates for implementation. The boss may or may not give consideration to what he or she believes the subordinates will think or feel about the decision, in any case no opportunity is provided for them to participate directly in the decision making process. Coercion may or may not be used or implied.

  1. The manager “sells” the decision.

Here the manager, as before, takes responsibility for identifying the problem and arriving at a decision. However, rather than simply announcing it, he or she takes the additional step of persuading the subordinates to accept it. In doing so, the boss recognizes the possibility of some resistance , and seeks to reduce the this resistance by indicating, for example, what the employees have to gain from the decision.

3. The manager presents ideas, invites question

Here again the boss who has arrived at a decision and who seeks acceptance of his or her decision provide an opportunity for subordinates to get a fuller explanation of his or her thinking and intentions. After presenting the ideas, the manager invites questions so that the subordinates can better understand what he or she is trying to accomplish. This “give and take” session also enables the manager and subordinates to explore more fully the implementation of the decision.

4. The manager presents a tentative decision subject to change.

This kind of behavior permits the subordinates to exert some influence on the decision. The initiative for identifying and diagnosing the problem remains with the boss. Before meeting with the staff, the manager has thought the problem through and arrived at a decision – but only a tentative one. Before finalizing it, he or she presents the proposed solution for the reaction of those who will be affected by it. He or she would say in effect: “ I’d like to hear what you have to say about this plan that I have developed. I’ll appreciate your frank reactions but will reserve for myself the final decision.”

5. The manager presents the problem, gets suggestions, and then makes decision.

Up to this point the boss has come before the group with a solution of his or her own. Not so in this case. The subordinates now get the first chance to suggest solutions. The manager’s initial role involves identifying the problem, then he or she might say, for example: “We are faced with a number of complaints from newspapers and general public on our service. What is wrong here? What ideas do you have for coming to grips with this problem.”

The purpose is to capitalize on the knowledge and experience of those who are on the “firing line”. From the alternatives developed by the manager and the subordinates, the manager then selects the solution that he or she regards as most workable.

6. The manager defines the limits and requests the group to make a decision.

At this point the manager passes to the group (possibly taking part as a member) the right to make decisions. Before doing so, however he or she defines the problem to be solved and the boundaries within which the decision must be made. Some examples could be: the handling of parking lot, area for sport activities, and construction of a new building for multi-purpose employee’s activities.

7. The manager permits the group to make decisions within prescribed limits.

This represents an extreme degree of group freedom only occasionally encountered in formal organizations, as, for instance, in many research groups. Here the team of managers or engineers undertakes the identification and diagnosis of the problems, develops alternative procedures for solving it, and decides on one or more of these alternative solutions. The only limits directly imposed on the group are those specified by the superior of the team’s boss.

Leadership style and Subordinates’ maturity

A leadership model that has strong acknowledgment and acceptance among management development specialists is called: situational leadership theory (Developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard). Situational leadership is a contingency theory that focuses on the followers. Effective leadership is achieved by selecting the right leadership style, which is contingent on the level of the follower’s maturity or readiness. Before we proceed, we should clarify two points: (1) why focus on followers? And (2) what is meant by the term maturity or readiness?

The emphasis on the followers in leadership effectiveness reflects the reality that it is the followers who accept or reject the leader. Regardless of what the leader does, effectiveness depends on the actions of his or her followers. This is an important dimension that has been overlooked or underemphasized in most leadership theories. Term readiness, as defined by Hersey and Blanchard (H & B), refers to the extent to which people have the ability and willingness to accomplish a specific task. Four stages of follower readiness according to H & B are as follows:

n People who are both unable and either unwilling or too insecure to take responsibility to do something. They are neither competent nor confident. (M 1)

n People who are unable but willing to do necessary job tasks. They are motivated but currently lack of the appropriate skills (M 2)

n People who are able but unwilling or too apprehensive to do what the leader wants (M 3)

n People who are both able and willing to take responsibility and do what is asked of them (M 4)

Situational leadership uses the same two leadership dimensions as we discussed earlier: task and relationship behaviors. However, H&B go a step further by considering each as either high or low and combining them into four specific leadership behaviors: telling, selling, participating, and delegating. They are described as follows:

n TELLING: The leader defines role and tells people what, how, when, and where to do various task. It emphasizes directive behavior

n SELLING: The leader provides both directive behavior and supportive behavior

n PARTICIPATING: The leader and follower share in decision making with the main role of the leader being facilitating and communicating

n DELEGATING: The leader provides little direction or support and delegates most of the jobs to subordinates.

In terms of task and relationship dimension the above behaviors are also referred as the following leader types:

n TELLING : High task – low relationship or S1 type

n SELLING : High task – high relationship or S2 type

n PARTICIPATING : Low task – high relationship or S3 type

n DELEGATING : Low task – low relationship or S4 type

The Exhibit integrates the various components into the situational leadership model. As followers reach high level of readiness, the leader responds by not only continuing to decrease control over activities, but also by continuing to decrease relationship behavior as well. At stage M1, followers need clear and specific directions. So the appropriate style is high-task and low-relationship or Telling (S1). At stage M2, both high-task and high-relationship behavior is needed or Selling (S2). The high-task behavior compensates for the follower’s lack of ability, and the high-relationship behavior tries to get the followers psychologically to “buy into” the leader’s desires. M3 represents motivational problems that are best solved by a supportive, nondirective, participative style. The right approach would be low-task and high-relationship or Participating (S3). Finally, at stage M4, the leader doesn’t have to do much because followers are both willing and able to do the job and take responsibility. The followers need no task directions nor motivational support, thus low-task and low-relationship style or Delegating (S4) work best for this kind of subordinates.


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