Leadership research has looked at any number of variables including leadership style. In other words, what do leaders do with others? What is their behaviour? For instance, should leaders be more autocratic or democratic or perhaps more task-oriented versus people-oriented?

Listed below is a table from Daniel Goleman’s article on “Leadership that Gets Results,” as published in the Harvard Business Review (March-April, 2000). It shows the various leadership styles which can be applied across various situations.

Coercive Demands immediate compliance “Do what I tell you” Drive to achieve, initiative, self-control In a crisis, to kick start a turnaround, or with problem employees Negative
Authoritative Mobilises people toward a vision “Come with me” Self-confidence, empathy, change catalyst When change requires new vision, or clear direction is needed Most strongly positive
Affiliative Creates harmony and builds emotional bonds “People come first” Empathy, building relationships, communication To heal rifts in a team or to motivate people during stress Positive
Democratic Forgers consensus through participation “What do you think?” Collaboration, team leadership, communication To get buying, consensus, or valuable input Positive
Pacesetting Sets high standards for performance “Do as I do now” Conscientious, drive to achieve, initiative To get quick results from a highly motivated and competent team Negative
Coaching Develops people for the future “Try this” Developing others, empathy, self-awareness To help an employee improve performance or develop long-term strengths Positive

So, when do you use one style above another? It all depends….

Irrespective, it is important to be authentic, but Professor Rob Goffee states that as a leader, you do have to “conform” enough in order to connect with others including your followers so that you can indeed, change things. But you can’t afford to conform too much or over-do it or else you’ll lose who you are.

So in a sense, in relation to styles, he asserts that we need to become “an authentic chameleon” which is a balancing act between being authentic and being authentic in the various contexts and situations. Yes, it all depends…

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