RAGAGEP for chemical manufacturers:
What’s Your Leadership Style?
There are six basic leadership styles:
- Visionary leaders use empathy to understand team member’s motivations and articulate the vision in terms the team can understand. Visionary leaders are generally considered the most positive. They succeed when changes require a new vision or when clear direction is needed. This leadership style should be used cautiously when dealing with highly intelligent or more experienced individuals.
- Coaching leaders connect an individual’s goals with the organization’s goals and seek to bring the best out in a person by providing advice that will make the person better and not feel manipulated. Coaching leaders are highly positive and tend to improve individual performance by building long-term capabilities. This leadership style is generally not as effective in gaining consensus or ensuring all team members are working toward a common goal.
- Affiliative leaders create harmony by connecting people to each other and nurture personal relationships, friendly interactions. Affiliative leaders encourage “schmoozing” and team building exercises. They are generally positive and highly effective with intelligent or experienced individuals. Affiliative leaders are also very effective in healing rifts between team members, motivating individuals during stressful times and strengthening intradepartmental cooperation.
- Democratic leaders value people’s input and gain commitment through participation.
Democratic leaders are good when direction is unclear or the issue is controversial. It is especially important to use this style when the team is highly diversified (functionally or culturally).
- Pacesetting leaders set and meet challenging and exciting goals. They gain high-quality results from a motivated and competent team. Technical professionals who are promoted into managerial roles often use the pacesetting style most frequently. They can be perceived negatively because of their work ethic and high expectation of others performance.
- Commanding leaders soothe fears by giving clear direction in an emergency. They also gain some level of results from de-motivated or unskilled employees. Commanding leaders are often effective in crisis situations. They are adept at kick-starting a turnaround or motivating problem employees, but because power is so easily abused, they can have highly negative effects on a team.
Most leaders have one or two dominant styles. The best managers are familiar with all six styles and are able to use any one of them (or combinations of them) based on the situation. It can be unnerving for the pacesetting leader to suddenly become affiliative, and, in fact, subordinates would probably distrust them and wonder, “What is going on with the boss?” either privately or publicly. But the individual or team attempting to lead an organization to better process safety performance must adapt. They must recognize what style will work best in each situation, and act accordingly.
These descriptions are adapted from Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee and Richard E. Boyatzis, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2002.