Leadership styles: How to use them effectively

How many types of leadership are there? What are the characteristics of leadership? What are the styles that characterize it? There are many questions those are revolve around the concept of leadership; it is often a source of ambiguity and many scholars have tried to define it. With the result that we have come to no longer count them.

The evolution of leadership

In history, we have witnessed an evolution of the concept of leadership: from the nihilist, that is oppressive and dominant to the authoritarian one, from the leadership founded on the authoritativeness up to the actual relational.

But which models of leaders do we know? Leadership manifests itself in two dimensions …

  • The capacity and behavior adopted as an operational guide.
  • The capacity and behavior adopted in the care of relationships.

Styles and characteristics of leadership

We can now answer the question posed initially about the styles that characterize leader qualities. They are mainly two …

  • Directional style: defines the objectives, gives operational indications and organizes the work by setting deadlines and controls.
  • Relational style: oriented to the involvement and support of the members of the group, with interactions, exchanges of opinions and listening.

Two scholars like Hersey and Blanchard have also studied the concept of situational leadership, for which there is no right or wrong way to be a leader but it is necessary to develop the ability to adapt to the situation, therefore to the context and the interlocutors with whom one is has to do. For example, if we move into a business context of any kind, a business owner or manager will be more effective the more he is able to modulate his attitude according to the team he manages.

Four leadership styles based on the context and the interlocutor

  • Management style: Ideal for managing an employee who has not yet become familiar with the environment or without particular technical skills. It is therefore necessary to indicate everything that needs to be done precisely. So a leader who “says what to do”.
  • Persuasive style: Suitable for managing employees who do not yet have all the skills but who want to grow professionally. We need to support them and motivate them to the fullest: in this case, the leader makes the decisions but explains the reasons and increasingly involving them from a relational point of view.
  • Participatory style: When in the company there are figures with many skills but still marked by insecurity, it is appropriate to adopt this style. Strategic therefore to reduce to the minimum the directive behavior because it would be perceived as oppressive; instead, a good leader will maintain a relational style by instilling trust in employees.
  • Delegating style: To manage responsible, self-confident and already competent people, this is the most appropriate style. The collaborator will then work independently and the leader will only evaluate the results

In most company contexts, we find mostly collaborators with medium-low or medium-high managerial skills. Therefore, a leader should generally adopt the persuasive and participatory styles as the managerial and delegating styles are only suitable for individuals with low or high professional maturity.

Be careful though! This does not mean that the most talented collaborators should be neglected. Agree to devote attention and energy to those who are less productive but never, ever, fail to appreciate their own: losing the most precious elements on the road would be difficult to repair.

As we have seen, there are many implications that the concept of leadership style implies and even a high rate of complexity is not lacking. Often managers and entrepreneurs, or even just figures who hold positions of responsibility, find themselves questioning how to manage their own approach in terms of leadership; what kind of attitude to take in certain situations and according to one’s interlocutor has been, and continues to be, a subject of study.

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