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Are Leadership Styles in the Work place changing?

I used to think of leadership styles as a very clear cut topic. Either you were considered autocratic, democratic, bureaucratic or lasseiz faire. It was as simple and blunt as that. However upon further analysis – and experience of many leaders in many of the clients I have worked at, the lines are obviously much more blurred.

Why are the blurred? Well, usually because managers accept the shortfalls in the leadership styles, and wish to incur the consequences of non of them. In essence, they try to create a balance that works for them, and achieves what they want in terms of results, whilst avoiding the typical drawbacks of the textbook styles.

Here are a couple of examples of how leadership styles can be used in different combinations to tailor a unique leadership image which fosters only positives… (in the eye of the manager anyway!).

Imagine a factory manager who is charged with the responsibility of quality and cost control. He must make difficult decisions regarding headcount, procedures and the roles of individual employees. If he focused on a 100% autocratic style, he could perhaps use stochastic modelling to calculate the optimal work process, and simply communicate this downwards to workers.

However, this would like lead to resentment on behalf of the workers due to them feeling like they have no input or autonomy over their own work, and that their ideas and insights gained from being on the ground not being valued. Therefore the manager could blend in a bit of democratic leadership style by kicking off his decision making with a survey or townhall or similar research method to feed him with problems and solutions direct from the work force before sitting down to make the decision.

This method; you could call it a hybrid leadership – would effectively give the manager 100% control over the decision as before, but by incorporating different elements of leadership styles, he can get the best of both worlds – more ideas and inputs to start off with, and therefore no employee backlash!

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