By Robyn Benincasa; May 29, 2012
Taking a team from ordinary to extraordinary means understanding and embracing the difference between management and leadership. The best managers consistently allow different leaders to emerge and inspire their teammates (and themselves!) to the next level.
Not only do the greatest teammates allow different leaders to consistently emerge based on their strengths, but they realize that leadership can be situational, depending on the needs of the team. For that reason, great leaders choose their leadership style with an analysis of the the end goal and the best tool for the job.
My favorite study on the subject of kinetic leadership is Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results, a landmark 2000 Harvard Business Review study. Goleman and his team completed a three-year study with over 3,000 middle-level managers. Their goal was to uncover specific leadership behaviors and determine their effect on the corporate climate and each leadership style’s effect on bottom-line profitability.
The research discovered that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company’s bottom-line profitability! Here are the six leadership styles Goleman uncovered among the managers he studied, as well as a brief analysis of the effects of each style on the corporate climate:
- The pacesetting leader expects and models excellence and self-direction. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do as I do, now.” The pacesetting style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results. Used extensively, however, this style can overwhelm team members and squelch innovation.
- The authoritative leader mobilizes the team toward a common vision and focuses on end goals, leaving the means up to each individual. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Come with me.” The authoritative style works best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed, or when explicit guidance is not required. It is not the best fit when the leader is working with a team of experts who know more than him or her.
- The affiliative leader works to create emotional bonds that bring a feeling of belonging to the organization. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “People come first.” The affiliative style works best in times of stress, or when the team needs to rebuild trust. This style should not be used exclusively, because it can foster mediocre performance and a lack of direction.
- The coaching leader develops people for the future. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Try this.” The coaching style works best when the leader wants to help teammates build lasting personal strengths that make them more successful overall. It is least effective when teammates are defiant and unwilling to change or learn, or if the leader lacks proficiency.
- The coercive leader demands immediate compliance. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do what I tell you.” The coercive style is most effective in times of crisis. However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it alienates people and stifles creativity.
- The democratic leader builds consensus through participation. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “What do you think?” The democratic style is most effective when the leader needs the team to buy into a decision, plan, or goal, or if he or she needs fresh ideas from qualified teammates. It is not the best choice in an emergency.
Bottom line? If you take two cups of authoritative leadership, one cup of democratic, coaching, and affiliative leadership, and a dash of pacesetting and coercive leadership “to taste,” and you lead based on need in a way that elevates and inspires your team, you’ve got an excellent recipe for long-term leadership success with every team in your life.