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Leadership: setting up the project of developing more accurate practices

Category: HRM

The different styles which affect leadership

They are shown on the graph:

The different styles which affect leadership

The two ends of the graph, A and B, show the extreme styles of leadership.

A shows a leader who will exercise his authority to the full allowing the team no freedom to make any decisions. This is known as “dictatorship”.

B shows a leader who sits back and lets the team lead itself, providing no motivation or direction. This is known as “abdication”.

However, these two styles are extremes. The majority of effective leaders will choose a leadership style somewhere between A and B. The range of styles shown on the graph is split into three distinctive leadership groups:





Directive leadership is leader orientated. Here the leader will assess the objective and decide on the relevant course of action to take. He will then decide whether to “tell” or “sell” the decision to the team or individual.

TELL — After deciding upon the relevant course of action the leader will tell the team or individual what to do.
SELL — The leader decides what to do and then sells the decision to the team or individual  by explaining why they are doing it.


Participative leadership includes both the leader and the team. Here the leader will discuss the objective with the team or individual before reaching a decision. He will then decide whether to adopt a “CONSULT” or “JOIN” style.

CONSULT — The leader will define the objective and discuss the alternative solutions with the team or individual. The leader will ten decide, from the suggestions offered by the team, on the best course of action.
JOIN — The leader defines the objective and will discuss the alternative solutions. He will then reach a joint decision with the team or individual.


Delegative leadership allows the team or individual to make the final decision.

By looking at the different leadership styles, it can be seen that one particular style cannot be classified as being better than the rest. If he wants to become effective, then, the leader must be prepared to use the style, which is most appropriate for the particular situation. The style he uses will depend on:

The degree of trust or confidence that the leader has in his team.

The leader’s confidence in himself.

The confidence that the leader’s superiors have in him.

The ability of his team.

Time constraint

Range of behaviour

Each type of action is related to the degree of authority used by the leader and to the amount of freedom available to the subordinates in the decision making process.

The behaviour seen on the left of the diagram is that of a leader who maintains the highest degree of control whilst that seen on the right of the diagram is of a leader who relinquishes a high degree of control. Looking more closely at each of the styles:

1) Leader makes decision and announces it

The leader identifies the problem, considers the alternative solutions, chooses one of them, makes the decision and then tells his subordinates. He provides absolutely no opportunity for them to be involved in the decision making process.

2) Leader “sells” decision

The leader, as before, takes responsibility for the identification of the problem and in arriving at the relevant decision. Rather than telling his subordinates, he persuades them to accept his view. By adopting this style he recognises the possibility that he may be faced with some resistance, but he hopes to minimise the resistance by the soundness of his system.

3) Leader presents ideas and invites questions

Here the leader has arrived at a decision and now seeks acceptance of his ideas and wishes to provide an opportunity for his staff to get a greater understanding of the reasons behind his decision. After explaining his ideas he invites questions from the subordinates, in the hope that his answers will enable them to better understand his reasons.

Leader presents tentative decision subject to change

This leader allows his subordinates to exert some influence in the decision making process. The initiative for identifying the problem still remains with the leader and, although he has made a decision, he presents this decision to the group for their reaction. He wishes to know the feelings of those of his subordinates who will be affected by his thoughts. Although he wishes to hear their opinions and views, he will reserve the right to make the final decision.

Leader presents problem, gets suggestions, makes decision

The leader still identifies the problem but, prior to this situation, has always presented the staff with a solution. However, in this situation, the subordinates get the first chance to suggest solutions, and their function now is to increase the range of alternatives available to the leader. He is in fact using the group’s expertise, skill and experience in arriving at a decision. From all the alternatives presented, the leader then selects the one that he regards as the most relevant.

Leader defines limits, asks group to make decision

At this point on the spectrum, the leader passes to the group the right to make decisions. Before doing so, however, he identifies the problem to be solved and the limits within which the subordinates must operate in order to arrive at a solution.

Leader permits subordinates to function within limits defined by superior

In this instance, the staff undertakes the identification of the problem, thinks of alternative ways of solving it and then decides on the most suitable solution. If the leader participates in the decision making process, he does so as an equal member of the team. The only limits imposed are those specified by the organisation.

A leader’s success will depend on the style he adopts. The style will depend upon different factors:

His personality

The situation

His authority

His staff

The leader may not actually sit down and think about which style he wants to adopt, but it is important to consider the varying styles that affect leadership.

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