According to Wikipedia, a leadership style is a leader’s style of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people.
There are different styles of leadership that exist in organizations and they depend on the nature of the organization, its philosophy, its mission, its people, the tasks that need to be undertaken, the culture of the organization. Some organizations have a leadership style that is commensurate with the ideals of the company, some have different styles depending on the particular requirements of the situation or department.
There are six specific leadership styles in operation.
This style is suitable when an organization changes track – the objective is to align everybody to new goals, set things in perspective for the long run and provide a vision of the future. This type of leader sets goals but allows individuals to experiment, improvise, and work on their own towards accomplishing that goal. The leader clearly spells out where the company is headed so that the people know what is expected of them.
Leaders with this style focus on developing their people on a one-on-one basis. They ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of individual members of their team, advise and help them improve their performance and help them to align their goals with the goals of the organization. This style works well when team members desire this kind of input for their professional advancement and have complete faith in the leader and his ability to guide them. Leaders need to guard against interfering too much as this may negatively impact the person’s self-confidence.
This style of leadership is very effective when it is necessary to increase bonding between employees and create a healthy team spirit, enhance trust and communication between team members and encourage the team to work together in total accord with each other. This approach is especially effective when group members face any kind of difficulties in their personal or professional lives but it can also give rise to mediocrity among some individuals in the group since emphasis is placed on the performance of the group and not individuals.
Democratic / Participative:
Under this leadership type, the whole team is involved in the decision making process. The belief underlying this style is that many heads are better than one. It is an effective method when the path to the goal is not very clear and the leader takes in suggestions from everybody and decides basis a consensus. But it can work only when the leader can clearly articulate the context, the process and the role that each individual is assigned and when the team members are competent, mature and able to work in the interests of the organization. This leadership is unlikely to work in the face of emergencies when quick decisions are required.
Leaders who follow this style have very high standards for performance. They are almost obsessive about performance and while they themselves work hard to achieve the high standards they set, they expect their team to follow suit too. On the negative side, such leaders do have a problem with delegating work because they fear that work will not be done to their satisfaction. This could lead to demotivation among team members and would therefore only work in small groups with high-performance individuals.
Directive / Commanding:
This is the typical military style of leadership – very common in earlier times but not so used today because of its demotivating and discouraging nature. This type of leader “orders” rather than guides or provides a context for team members to work within. There is hardly any praise for performance, instead criticism is common leading to low morale and loss of interest in work. This style works only in a crisis or when the team is performing very poorly. In other situations this style is counter-productive.