Leadership in change: 6 management styles
Today’s challenges are challenging and often complex. This requires an organisation that is capable of change. Which leadership fits which type of challenge? There are quite a few management styles. And that’s a good thing, because modern management has long since outgrown the one-size-fits-all model of traditional top-down organizations. In this blog we describe 6 management styles. Or: 6 leadership styles in change. Take the time to absorb them. And the freedom and creativity to work with it.
6 different leadership styles
In the early 2000s
the idea of the 6 leadership styles. It’s not so much about that strict number of 6 styles, but more about the various approaches. Because hardly anyone sticks to one specific style. After all, it’s not about systems and theories, but about people. Good leaders know the rules and know when to break them. They know which management style suits which situation and which team. And when to loosen or tighten the reins.
It’s about these 6 leadership styles:
Type 1: Aristocratic management style
In this very strict management style, the manager takes complete control of, and responsibility for, a situation. For most organizations, this is an old-fashioned and therefore inappropriate top-down management style. Because an aristocratic leader does little to harness employee creativity and promote growth. This management style also comes with a lot of costs in terms of planning, communication and overview. Because you have to rig up and manage a whole compliance system to check that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing. That’s called agency creation. And that, by definition, is inefficient.
The aristocratic leadership style is very appropriate if the employees have little or no experience. As the team becomes more skilled and reliable, you can shift your method to a more flexible leadership style. The aristocratic leadership style is also important for organizations that work with high risk.
Is this the case in your organization? Set clear and immediate goals for the team. Make sure team members know how to follow and carry out your instructions and what everyone’s role is. Also make sure they have the resources to do so.
Type 2: Affiliative management style
Are you dealing with an entirely new team? Or with a team that has had a lot of setbacks lately? Then the affiliative management style is a very suitable form of leadership for change. Because in this way you promote the connection, the harmony and the trust between team members. This style is therefore also very suitable for conflicts between team members that hinder the results of a team. An affiliate leader gives compliments and keeps morale high.
Are you dealing with the reorganization of a department? Then keep in mind how each team member works best. Give everyone time to get used to their roles. Some people fall back into their comfort zone. Others see such a transition as an opportunity for rapid change. As a manager, it is important that you help people adjust to the new situation.
Affiliate leaders realize that change and creating group cohesion takes time. They understand that everyone needs to feel a little uncomfortable, but take care to keep people feeling seen and valued. There are people who indicate that this management style leads to lower team performance. This is because there is less tight control over outcomes. There’s something to be said for that. Therefore, use this style sparingly. And switch to a more focused management style when the team starts to run smoothly.
Type 3: Coaching management style
Leaders and managers are coaches who inspire, encourage and guide their team to better results. Coaching leaders balance between the aristocratic and affiliative leadership styles. They make their own decisions, but with feedback from the group.
The coaching leadership style is very suitable for inspiring employees to perform better, after a phase in which a new team has been forged and for which an affiliative style is (more) appropriate. The team members have demonstrated the right competencies. And they have gained the trust of their colleagues. So they no longer need specific instructions, but feedback in order to perform the task well, either independently or together with colleagues.
Type 4: Democratic management style
Democratic leaders believe it is important to listen, collaborate and invest in people. They give people the time and space to deliver the best possible products and services. Democratic leadership focuses on achieving consensus. This type of leader thinks it is important to hear everyone’s voice, in order to make (important) decisions.
Democratic leadership is applicable in situations where something is asked of all team members. For example, consider a startup. Then consensus building can mean the difference between success and failure. Projects – and even entire companies – in high-tech markets can grow or fail, depending on the commitment of employees. Democratic leadership thrives best in a situation where debate and brainstorming can take place freely.
Type 5: Task-based management style
Tasked leaders use their experience in a given market to get as much done as possible from highly motivated employees. They set the example and make high demands on employees. They function best when they set short and long term goals.
Task-based leadership is especially appropriate in markets where there is high demand for a product or service. For example, retail, IT, telecom. Tasked leaders often use performance measures to get the best possible results from their teams. Some people thrive best when they are recognized and rewarded for achievements. Think about salespeople, for example.
An additional benefit is that the task-based leadership style encourages so-called overachievers to work hard and stay aware of long-term goals. An overachiever is someone who always goes for a 10. By setting achievable goals, these employees can avoid burnout.
Type 6. Visionary management style
Visionary management style is a very specific form of leadership in change. This management style works well when a team has to make the impossible possible. This requires a visionary management style. This creates involvement and knows how to inspire people. Visionary leadership can only be used successfully if it is accompanied by strong central leadership, which also ensures cohesion between team members. If that is the case, then you can achieve wonderful results and considerable organisational growth.
Visionary leadership does require you to take the time to listen. Inspiring leaders succeed in attracting people who are eager to be part of a successful organisation with an inspiring mission. Smart visionaries know when to inspire employees and when to empower them.
In the figure below you can see all the styles with advantages and disadvantages.
Leadership in change: which style do I choose?
Looking for the best approach to leadership in change? That depends on quite a few factors. Of course, the type of leadership should fit your personality. But the environment is also of influence. In short, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which leadership styles suit me?
- What leadership styles do I want from my bosses?
- What leadership styles work best in my industry?
- What types of leadership styles are best suited to my team?
- What is needed to make people perform better?
- When am I a good leader?
The tricky thing is: every person has a preferred style. Whereas you should choose and deploy a style that fits the context and the organization. Therefore, choose management styles that seem opposite to your way of doing things and try them out. This forces you to work with styles that you might not naturally apply. Start small in safe situations and see how your team responds.
Whatever leadership style you choose, it is important that you use it to create value.
So. This is not just about the economic outcome, but also the social and environmental outcomes. As a leader, you ensure that employees take responsibility, go along with the changes and enjoy their work.
Want to know more about value creating leadership and how to apply different leadership styles? Then download the ebook Leadership in the Economy of Value below. Or
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