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leadership styles 2016“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher” – Chinese Proverb –

There is a gamut of various leadership styles that small business owner can harness. World has seen great leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Steve Ballmer, Jack Welch and many others who have led the people. The leadership style of these leaders is not alike. The style of each leader is unique and his personality stamped on it. One should also be aware of the fact that there is no one style that fits the entire situation. Therefore, a business owner has to demonstrate the leadership qualities as requirement the situation. The leadership style a business owner displays will determine the success of his business. There are

Daniel Jay Goleman, an American psychologist and author, in his article “Leadership That Gets Results” has mentioned six leadership styles. They are as follows

  1. Directive/Coercive- “Do What I tell you”
    A coercive leader will not consider the opinions and suggestions of those involved in the situation. His slogan is “My way or the highway”. A person who is a coercive leader is unapproachable and this can be detrimental to the growth and success of an organization. The co-workers will think twice before putting forward new ideas and they are deeply de-motivated by his attitude. An entrepreneur must curb this leadership style as the employees may not give their best shot to their job and he may never know when there is a business crisis. This style is best adopted if the business is in serious trouble. Once that phase is gone by its wise to put on another leadership hat.
  2. Visionary/Authoritative- “Come with me”
    This leadership style is important if a leader wishes to articulate his vision and mission to his employees and thereby get them to cooperate with him. The leaders who follow this style are visionaries and they are clear about the path they wish for their employees to follow to achieve the organizational goal. Authoritative leadership style is best adopted when the organization wants to implement a new vision.
  3. Participative/Affiliative- “People oriented where people come first”
    If one wants to establish positive relationship with his employees, put on this leadership hat. A leader following this style ensures that he gives positive and timely feedback whenever and wherever necessary. This leadership style creates harmony and also improves the morale of the employees.
  4. Democratic- “What do you think”
    Here the leader considers the inputs of the employees before making any major decisions for his company. This leadership style brings out the best in the employees as they feel their talents, ideas and suggestions are considered.
  5. Pacesetting- “Do as I do now”
    People with this type of leadership style “walk the talk”. They’re obsessed about getting things done their way, quickly and with precision. They tend to set the bar high not only for their self but also for others. Pacesetter leaders are slow to praise and appreciate but are quick to pinpoint mistakes and criticize. Though on the surface, pacesetters are admired for their competency, their thought process may have negative effect on the organization in the long run
  6. Coaching- “Try this”
    A leader wearing this hat recognizes talents and nurtures it. He draws developmental charts that include challenging assignments that force the employees to learn new skills. This leadership style has the ability to foresee the future and bring out the best in the people of his organization.

One would be wondering which style is the best for his organization. However, there is no good or bad leadership style. A seasoned golfer would know which club to choose from his club set to give a best shot to a round of golf. Similarly, a good leader would know which leadership hat to put on while handling a specific situation and people involved.

If an entrepreneur has a tendency to lean towards coercive or pacesetter styles here are a couple pointers to help him change the style for the betterment of his organization.

  1. Change of approach as per situation-
    pacesetter as well as coercive styles have their place in the growth of a business. For instance when there is a crisis, its wise to adorn these hats as they help to take charge of the situation and bring things under control swiftly. However, the leader should change the style to affliative style when things are not going down well with the employees of the organization. Add human touch while dealing with them.
  2. Eliminate the fear factor-
    Creating fear in the minds of the workers to get things done may not always work. An entrepreneur must be aware of the fact that threat engenders fear and this in turn can cripple the performance of the employees. In the long run the productivity is less and the company can run into heavy losses. Therefore eliminate fear by

    • Allowing the employee to express their concerns
    • Giving them opportunities to question the status quo
    • Allow them to be creative at workplace
    • Avoid blame games and replace it with lessons learned. If something goes wrong use it as a learning tool to create better measures to avoid such mistakes.

    Dr. W. Edwards Deming, an American statistician, management consultant and author, also known as the father of quality management, has mentioned eliminating fear as one of the 14 principles of quality management.

  3. Be open to ideas-
    Last but not the least, a leader has to be open minded enough to accept the creative ideas of his followers. Allow the employees to talk, discuss and debate about their creative idea. This will foster a healthy environment and in the long run helps in the growth of the organization.

However, in reality, the leadership styles are mostly determined by the personality as well as the circumstances of an entrepreneur. Accordingly, an entrepreneur can adopt a people-oriented or task-oriented approach. The ultimate goal of a business leader is to be flexible and put on the leadership style hat that best suits a particular situation. One thing that defines a successful entrepreneur is when he recognizes that the success of the organization is not a one-man show and the growth is collective contribution of the employees.

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