Leadership Styles and Group Behavior

As long as there have been leaders, there have been those who tried to determine how and why they were successful. Leadership itself has not evolved, but our understanding of it has. It is important to understand why very different leadership styles can be effective, why the same leadership techniques will not work in every situation, and which leadership style fits your personality best.

Leadership potential exists within each of us. That potential can be triggered by outside events, or it can be learned by exploring ourselves from within. Once you learn the techniques of true leadership, you will be able to build the confidence it takes to take the lead. The more experience you have acting as a genuine leader, the easier it will be for you. It is never easy to take the lead, as you will need to make decisions and face challenges, but it can become natural and rewarding.

Leadership is not telling others what to do. Leadership is inspiring others to do what needs to be done. Many people around the world who are in leadership positions are not leaders. Dictators call themselves leaders but they are not – they are tyrants. There have been many presidents of the United States, but few were real leaders. Genuine leaders take a stand and motivate others to join them in a noble purpose. One such leader was Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery in the United States. Another was
John F. Kennedy inspired a nation to go to the moon within a decade, and it did. What separates the good from the great?

Influence is subtle, yet incredibly powerful. You can order someone to do a task, but you cannot order them to do their best. It simply does not work and usually has the opposite effect. You can influence people to do their best by providing a strong, motivating example in addition to positive reinforcement. Leadership addresses tasks, while influence addresses attitudes and awareness. Influence is the soul of leadership.

Take a look at this list of common leadership styles and see what is most dominant:

Style Typically Style Typically
Coaching Motivational Democratic Supportive
Visionary Inspirational Pace Setter Helpful
Servant Humble Transformational Challenging
Autocratic Authoritarian Transactional Performance-Focused
Laisse-Faire Hands Off Bureaucratic Duty Focused

There is no right or wrong leadership style but there are styles that don’t fit the group being managed or the organization. Situational leadership was first introduced in 1969 by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard as the “life cycle theory of leadership”. This theory relies on the idea that teams change in their dynamics and readiness levels change. Looking at the organization, team members, and goals ahead you can select a style of leadership to fit the challenge.