Much has been written about ‘leadership style’ over a great many years and I have contributed my own thoughts on the subject through articles and speeches many times.
Adaptability is certainly the greatest ability that a leader needs to be successful and I saw a great tweet the other day from one of my own training team at MTD. My only concern with Situational Leadership is that it assumes the ‘leader’ is always already competent in the task to be achieved. A good study on the subject of leadership style is Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results, a landmark 2000 Harvard Business Review study.
His research calculated that leadership style was responsible for 30% of bottom-line profit!
This pacesetting style works best with already motivated and skilled teams, and quick wins are required. The coaching style is for when the leader wants to help team members ‘grow’ in terms of personal development. This leadership style is required and affective during times of business, political or environmental crisis or disaster.
The democratic style is effective when problem solving or the leader needs the team to take ownership of a key decision, plan, or goal. The biggest challenge we face as leaders is when to use the right leadership style and for how long? I haven’t mentioned one of my favourite leadership styles so far and I will finish on it as it encompasses them all – Authenticity!
For me authenticity is about ‘who you are as a person?’ for example, your attitudes, morals and beliefs. A little about Business BanterBusiness Banter empowers Startups, SME's & Entrepreneurs with the inspiration and motivation to make the right business choices.
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Maximizers, like Activators, want to get things done, but they also want to preserve the good that exists within an organization. Any one of these leadership styles left on their own without compensating forces will unravel. Daniel Goleman (2002) created the Six Leadership Styles and found, in his research, that Leaders used one of these styles at any one time.
These models can be seen below, which summarises the techniques, scenarios of when they work best and the impact on the organisation and its goals.
This style is best used in situations where the company or followers require a complete turnaround attempt which is quite urgent and there is no real time for active group discussions. This style should only be used for short time frames, just to get the job done, as the long term impact can be negative.
The negative aspect can be that poor performance will go by without feedback as the Leader may feel that conflict will upset the balance.
The Democratic Leader will use the team as decision makers – taking the team vote to make decisions and improvements. When and only when the workplace is ready for Democratic Leaders, this style produces a work environment that employees can feel good about with heightened morale levels.


Remember, decisions still have to be made, so effect decisions in a timely manner must be the tip of the day when using this method! Only when employees are self-motivated and highly skilled, the Pacesetting Leadership method comes into its own and is extremely effective. In the Coaching Leadership Style the leader focuses purely on helping others in their personal development, and in their job-related activities towards a goal.
This style works best when the employee already understands their weaknesses, and is receptive to improvement suggestions or ideas. While coercion and pacesetting do indeed have their uses, research suggests that these styles can damage the organisation’s ‘working atmosphere’ in the longer term.
In comparison, the other four of the Six Leadership styles have a proven positive impact on the Working environment and also performance. Again, the most effective leader is one who can master at least four of the styles, and who can use the style to suit the situation. Leadership is about casting a vision and allowing it to seep into others so they follow the lead. So, to be a good leader you need to be very skillful to construct bridges of empathy with people. So the leadership styles in management that we see with Gandhi famous quotes are distinctively what anyone can evolve into being. Where effective leadership is task-relevant, and the most successful leaders are those that adapt their leadership style to the maturity (level of existing skill & motivation) of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence.
This is not always the case but when I raised this question with the tutor on the Situational Leadership course that I attended many years ago, they couldn’t answer! As I run a management training and development business this is an article that I use all the time to ‘prove’ the real value of leadership training. This leadership style should only be used for short bursts as a reliance on praise alone can encourage mediocre performance.
It only works when both parties want to achieve the same goals and where the leader is proficient at coaching. Democracy is never the best choice in an emergency situation or where a flamboyant and verbose team member stifles the debate for others. It’s wonderful to be able to differentiate the varied quantities and to be able to see this from now on when someone delivers a seminar or training.
Every leader has their own unique voice and their own individual approach to people and projects.
Not because it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside (In fact, the very best teams have few warm fuzzies).
They get things done and really don’t care whose idea it is (or who gets the credit for that idea). They know that too much change can be disruptive and bring a natural diplomacy to the situations they are in. Developers can be impatient when solutions dona€™t work immediately and too quick to find an alternative.
This style is particularly effective in times when a new direction is needed: for someone to come up with the vision and the way forward.


Employees can expect a great deal of praise and feedback and there is normally a good sense of interconnection with the team. Utilising this method will, in the longer term, create good team bonding and heightened team performance. Workers feel that their opinion counts, and because of that feeling they are more committed to achieving the goals and objectives of the organisation. These Leaders set very high performance standards for themselves and the group and epitomize the behaviours they are seeking from other members of the group. With the use of this style, the Leader helps team members upskill and become successful in their development, working closely with, coaching, developing, and mentoring them to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to be successful. Remember, even the coercion and Pacesetting roles have their uses, you just have to use them only when the situation dictates. Their aim was to discover specific leadership behaviours and determine their effect on the bottom-line profitability of the business. As per my gripe about Situational Leadership above, this is not the best leadership style when the leader is working with experienced experts who know more than they do! This dictatorial approach rarely works outside of the above circumstances as it is too strict and rapidly leads to ‘disengagement’.
It also means bringing others into your inner circle who have a very different style than yours, trusting them and listening to them to compensate for your weaknesses. Activators can push oneself and others too hard for results and burn everyone out, including themselves. A good example of when to use this method is when a group has been functioning together as an effective team for a while and are now performing in a good team culture. You can manage people but that will only be because you have the authority to do so bestowed upon you.
The adaptability refers to the leadership style required given the specific circumstances that you face.  A great leader must therefore have BOTH ‘style’ and ‘substance’! Developers also enjoy creative ideas, but their drive is to take action on those ideas, so their list of things on the blank piece of paper is shorter than the Innovator’s. Maximizers can fail to take action on critical initiatives if the decision is perceived as unpopular. Then recruit other leaders who are very different from you, listen to them deeply and trust them completely. At this point, the Leader may wish to step things up and move to a new level of performance for a project or short term goal.
But you can lead from anywhere, by example, so that your influence infects others and regardless of your position or authority, they follow what you say. Mahatma Gandhi was a leader who kept working on himself till he became the man worthy of gaining a country’s following. And Stabilizers can apply systems and processes too rigidly,A insisting on a policy for every situation and paralyzing the organization.



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