Historically leadership style simply referred to the way a leader went about providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people.
Their leadership style described what they did and how they did it but didn’t explicitly refer to what results the leader’s style produced.
4 Traditional Leadership Styles
The 4 traditional approaches to leadership style are built around the leader.
- Authoritarian – S/he is in control, efficient and believes they are “in charge”
- Paternalistic – S/he supplies complete concern for their employees; In return they receive (or expect to receive) their complete trust and loyalty
- Democratic – S/he shares decision-making with group members and practices social equality
- Laissez-faire – S/he allows employees to have complete freedom to make decisions concerning the completion of their work
The problem with traditional leadership style approaches is twofold. The first issue is that they focus on the leader and don’t take into account how the leader’s followers REACT to each style. The second, is that they don’t consider the OUTCOMES of each style – i.e. which style produces the best results (especially in relation to different situations).
The traditional approach does provide a useful starting point for understanding leadership styles. However, research conducted by Susan David found that a leaders’ IQ – their general mental ability (GMA) – was the single biggest factor influencing leadership effectiveness. This finding is consistent with research across a wide range of occupations – that is, that GMA is the strongest predictor of job performance. What’s really interesting is that she found Emotional Intelligence (EI) to be the second biggest factor influencing leadership effectiveness.
While we can’t do much to increase our native IQ, it is possible to improve our EI through becoming more self-aware. Daniel Goleman first popularised the idea of EI over 20 years ago and demonstrated how leaders can improve their EI by focusing on 4 “domains”: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Goleman’s research led him to develop 4 ‘new’ leadership styles that embody EI as well as leadership style outcomes. He calls them “resonant” leadership styles – they need to “resonate” with followers and have a positive influence on the group’s climate and results.
Visionary leaders see the big picture of where they’re headed, share that perspective with the group, and inspire them to work together to reach their goals. This style builds resonance by moving people toward their dreams.
Coaching leaders focus on the personal development of staff members. This style builds resonance by connecting what people want with the organization’s goals.
Affiliative leaders build relationships and collaboration. This style builds resonance by creating harmony through connecting people to each other.
Democratic leaders draw on the knowledge of the group either to give input or to actually collaborate in making decisions. This style builds resonance through valuing people’s input and getting commitment through participation.
With the exception of the democratic leadership style, Goleman’s resonant leadership style provide quite a contrast to traditional ones. The role (and popularity) of EI in establishing greater employee engagement, teamwork and productivity is a clear illustration of how management and leadership have moved from “Command and Control” to “Empower and Engage”. Consider yourself and your leadership team. How do you/they fit into the above styles?