When it comes to leading effectively, learning to choose the right leadership style is everything. Depending on personality, circumstance, and goals, we need to understand which style is suitable for the situation at hand.
Two highly regarded leadership academics, Robert Blake and Jane Mouton, have identified the five leadership styles: Bureaucratic, Supportive, Directive, Traditional, and Collaborative. Their research indicated that leaders tend to focus on two major issues: People and Production.
Ranging from a hands-off approach to one of full engagement, each of the major leadership styles is appropriate for certain situations:
- Bureaucratic Manager. Low level of concern for people and production
Example: At a nuclear power plant where safety is the top priority, a ‘by-the-book’ style is critical to keep processes running smoothly and to protect the public.
- Supportive Manager. High concern for people, low concern for production
Example: During stressful work periods when the team needs to decompress, the supportive style encourages well-being.
- Directive Manager. Just the opposite. High concern for production and low concern for people
Example: In safety or legal matters, near-term results are more critical than feelings, support, and commitment.
- Traditional Manager. Equal concern people and production, but also concerned with the political impact of a decision
Example: In work situations that require compromise and finding middle ground, this style works well. It’s second to Collaborative.
- Collaborative Manager. High concern for both people and production, with full engagement of the team to deliver great results Example: This most effective style focuses on the interdependence of organizational and people needs, and the need to balance them.
The key is to know when to dial in a specific style to lead a team most effectively. Whenever possible, we recommend the Collaborative style as the first choice.