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Identifying Leadership Styles

The twenty-first century has revealed a complex and diverse organizational climate that is resistant to narrow and simplistic leadership approaches. A narrow application of leadership theory can polarize followers and stagnate an organization because it does not adequately interact with a broad range of organizational factors at play in the organization. A productive leader in this environment must be open to and engage, as well as embrace, many different leadership styles as are brought forth in the different leadership theories. We can answer the question, of how should we decide which leadership approach to use when, by identifying four leadership styles:
1. Telling/Directing Leader — a leader provides detailed instruction and closely coaches the follower.

2. Selling/Coaching Leader — a leader provides explanations and principles, engages the follower in a discussion of the work, and coaches as needed.

3. Facilitating/Counseling Leader — the leader assists the follower with goal clarification and ideas, then coaches as needed

4. Delegating Leader — the goal is clarified and the work turned over to the follower.

We can further assert that determining the level of follower readiness will help indicate which style will be most effective. For instance:
* People who are both unable and either unwilling or too insecure to take responsibility to do something. They are neither competent nor confident. These need clear and specific directions. So the appropriate style is Telling/Directing.
* People who are having less skill level, but willing to do necessary job task and are motivated but currently lack the appropriate skills need both high-task and high-relationship leadership or Selling/Coaching.
* People who are able but unwilling or too apprehensive to do what the leader wants need low-task and high-relationship or Facilitating/Counseling.
* People who are both able and willing to take responsibility and do what is asked of them require low-task and low-relationship style or Delegating.

Tannenbaum, Robert & Schmidt, Warren. HOW TO CHOOSE A LEADERSHIP PATTERN. (2008) Boston MA: Harvard Business Review

Hersey, Paul & Blanchard, Kenneth H. & Johnson, Dewey E. (2005). Management of Organizational Behavior: Leading Human Resources (8th Edition). Prentice Hall