The Best Leadership Style
By Aaron Olsen
Recently I took part in an interview with leadership guru Ken Blanchard. Ken was just
finishing up his book, Fit at Last, in which he shares how after years of failing to
meet his personal fitness goals he was finally able to succeed by applying situational
leadership to his fitness routine. One of the questions which we asked Ken was what
leadership style he thinks is the best. His answer was simple and rang with universal
truth. Since then I have analyzed what Ken had to say and have come to realize what
the best leadership style really is.
There are hundreds of different leadership styles and philosophies out there in the
world; however which is the best? Is it the football coach yelling drills, at his
team that will condition them into a game winning team? Or is it the college professor
whom instead of serving as a lecturer encourages his pupils to think and grasp the
concepts for themselves. What if the professor and football coach switched positions
where in the class, the coach shouted out information, and the professor waited for
the football team to learn what they needed to practice in order to train themselves?
Perhaps the better question that we should be asking is which leadership style do you
best react to? The concept of leadership is not at all systematic in nature. It takes
years to develop, and requires the leader to understand his environment, and the
motivation and competency levels of those whom he is working with.
There are four types of leadership styles: Directing, Coaching, Supporting and Delegating.:
1. The Directing leadership style is one where the leader takes control of the
situation. He relies on his knowledge and personal experiences to lead a group,
giving them very little control to lead themselves. This method is best applied
to a group that is enthusiastic and highly motivated to get a job done, however
they lack the competence to get things done themselves.
2. The next step up from Directing is the Coaching Style. Coaching involves
getting involved with an individual while they still lack competence in an
area. They require a high level of direction, as well as advice and
encouragement in order to build their both their confidence, and competence.
3.The Supporting Style of leadership is designed for individuals who
are gaining competence in their field, however they still lack confidence
in themselves and their own abilities. They need a high level of
encouragement and to be told that they can succeed.
4. The Delegating Style is designed for individuals
that have grown into a high level of confidence, motivation, and competence.
They don’t necessarily need to be directed anymore and are capable of
mentoring others. Individuals that have reached this level can be
delegated projects and best benefit when they are the ones to approach
you, as their leader, for advice and counsel.
Is there one leadership style that is better than the other?
No. What it all boils down to is the competence and commitment levels
of the individuals whom you are trying to lead. Something to keep in
mind is that just because an individual may react best to the delegating
style in one area of his life, doesn’t mean that the delegating style
would be right for him or her in another area. How motivated and
competent an individual is at the task given is the determining factor
for which leadership style will work best for them.
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