6 Leadership Styles: Which works best for you?


Much has been written over the years about leadership styles. Many times, the author tries to push his one favorite comfort leading style. The one in which he/she is most comfortable and uses 80-90 percent of the time. Perhaps it is good to look at various leadership styles and particular situations where each will work best and where they will not.

Military – This is a commanding role. The leader barks orders as if he or she is building new army recruits. In the workplace this seldom is effective. It goes against people’s desire to achieve and accomplish. While it may work well in the military, in the workplace it rips motivation from employees/volunteers. I’ve known of former military leaders attempting this in the social sector (hospitals, churches, etc.). Military leadership in this sector and others is anti-effective.

Gripped Fanatic – This person wants to continually up the pace and raise the bar, raise the goals, usually stretching the limits of the workers beyond reasonability. Some of these leaders have a fast-paced mentality and operating mode themselves and believe others to only be lazy in not keeping up the pace. Turnover is usually high and morale low in such organizations. People can and should be stretched in certain situations. But take caution to know your people and their limits.

Visionary – This is where the leader sets the vision (concept & foresight) for the near and perhaps distant future for the organization. Vision is vital in the success of any organization and should be updated annually, celebrating all the milestone victories along the way. Celebrate all the victories, big and small. Even small victories are milestones for some of your people.

A vision, however, is a roadmap for the organization. When looking at a road map, you do not see every building and landmark along the journey you will be traveling. The visionary leader sets the roadmap, allowing the employees/volunteers to help articulate how that vision is carried out. This requires some freedom of “how to arrive” at the vision and builds morale and buy-in.

Coaching – The coaching leader’s emphasis is on assisting in the self-improvement of other persons. A coaching leader helps that person (team or organization) reach inside him/herself and unearth his/her potential with a desire to build upon that potential and skillset. Coaching should never be used to manipulate or micro-manage people. This will destroy confidence and morale within an organization. Proper coaching will build on both confidence and morale as well as motivation.

Relational – The relational leader encourages building relationships among co-workers/volunteers and is best seen and use in building teams that work together. Relational leading can be very productive when used correctly and – as is said about eating – in moderation. Relational leading can have its downsides. When tough times come within the organization, be those personal or company-driven, will the strong relational ties be to work together through those for the organization or the individual relationships?

This represents a glimpse of five leadership styles. You can read of others such as Autocratic, Democratic, Authoritative, Participative, Delegative, Positional, on and on they go. Several of these are simply different names for similar leader traits. The key is understanding them and settle on which is best for each particular situation you find yourself in. In some situations, relational leadership may be best, for building a team to accomplish a task. In another situation, you may find your employees or volunteers need coaching leadership to build on their natural abilities.

The question is, What will you do this week to improve your leadership abilities and not rely on just one leadership style? Or perhaps, what leadership style do you need to eradicate from your repertoire?

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.

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