GUEST BLOG: What kind of leader are you?

It's possible that some newly appointed leaders study the options and consider which style they would like to adopt before taking on their leadership role, but unlikely. Some leaders slip into a style that stays with them, others may change as result of the feedback and results they experience.

As a leader you may have a predominant style, or because individual styles deliver the right outcome for specific situations, you may be more of a chameleon and switch between leadership types.

Kurt Lewin has three key theories on leadership. Do you recognise your style amongst them? Could you be encouraged to take yourself out of your comfort zone and step into an alternative role to experience the results it can offer?


Kurt Lewin's Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic)

'Don't do as I do, do as I say'

I know what needs to be done and how I want it done and there is no room for compromise. I dictate the state of play.  I wouldn't waste time asking my staff for input or ideas, that's not why they are employed. I never get to close to my staff - that would never do, it could lead to difficult situations. Keep your distance and let them know who is boss.

Let's face it, if we are faced with an urgent situation someone would have to take control and make a decision.


Kurt Lewin's Participative Leadership (Democratic)

'Let's work through this together and then I'll make a decision'

I like to encourage the team to contribute ideas and solutions because it helps their development, moving them towards a successful future. Without doubt my team is more motivated and creative as a result of their involvement. After discussions I make the decision based on the information facing me. At the end of the day the buck stops with me.

No one has the monopoly on ideas and when we have the luxury of time on our side it's a perfect opportunity to see what my staff are made of. They enjoy it.


Kurt Lewin's Delegative (Laissez-Faire)

'You know what you have to do, so get on with it'

I see no point getting involved with what everyone is doing. They know what is expected of them and can do the job quite easily without my input.

They are pretty ungrateful though, despite the fact that I let them make their own decisions they seem to lack motivation.

At the end of the day these guys know their jobs better than I do. Allowing them to make their own decisions is a form of development. Sometimes their mistakes can be costly but it's not a problem when the project can withstand the mistakes. It's a great learning curve.

Recognise yourself in any of these leadership styles?

In terms of general leadership guidance, talk to your staff - they generally have the answers and know most about an organisation. Feedback from your work force is paramount.

Maintain a strong position. If leadership is weak, staff become demotivated, which in turn has an effect on customer service resulting in lower profits.

Communicate effectively with your team. Tell them what your vision is and keep them in touch with it. They need to know their involvement and their responsibilities in terms of achieving your vision.

Communicate, communicate and then communicate some more! Then check they understand. That goes further than just saying 'Do you understand?' which will usually just prompt the response 'Yes'. Ask them what they have to do and when they have to do it by. Ask them to tell you what your vision is and make sure they are specific in their responses.

Good leadership is about delegating correctly too. Delegate and do it effectively so that your team knows exactly what their responsibilities are. Set objectives for the delegated work with measurements in place. Good delegation leads to highly motivated team members.

Lead by demonstrating a positive, energised, and customer-focused attitude and your flock will follow with enthusiasm, pride and in a highly motivated manner.

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