Tuesday, July 18, 2006

New Leadership Style

Current events led me to study what leadership styles are extant. This site by Donald Clark succintly discusses the "Positive and Negative Approaches" of leaders:
There is a difference in ways leaders approach their employee. Positive leaders use rewards, such as education, independence, etc. to motivate employees. While negative employees emphasize penalties. While the negative approach has a place in a leader's repertoire of tools, it must be used carefully due to its high cost on the human spirit.

Negative leaders act domineering and superior with people. They believe the only way to get things done is through penalties, such as loss of job, days off without pay, reprimand employees in front of others, etc. They believe their authority is increased by freighting everyone into higher lever of productivity. Yet what always happens when this approach is used wrongly is that morale falls; which of course leads to lower productivity.

Also note that most leaders do not strictly use one or another, but are somewhere on a continuum ranging from extremely positive to extremely negative. People who continuously work out of the negative are bosses while those who primarily work out of the positive are considered real leaders. (emphasis mine)
It also talks about the Autocratic and Participative leadership styles:
Authoritarian (autocratic)

This style is used when the leader tells her employees what she wants done and how she wants it done, without getting the advice of her followers. Some of the appropriate conditions to use it is when you have all the information to solve the problem, you are short on time, and your employees are well motivated.

Some people tend to think of this style as a vehicle for yelling, using demeaning language, and leading by threats and abusing their power. This is not the authoritarian style...rather it is an abusive, unprofessional style called bossing people around. it has no place in a leaders repertoire.

The authoritarian style should normally only be used on rare occasions. If you have the time and want to gain more commitment and motivation from your employees, then you should use the participative style.

Participative (democratic)

This type of style involves the leader including one or more employees in on the decision making process (determining what to do and how to do it). However, the leader maintains the final decision making authority. Using this style is not a sign of weakness, rather it is a sign of strength that your employees will respect.

This is normally used when you have part of the information, and your employees have other parts. Note that a leader is not expected to know everything -- this is why you employ knowledgeable and skillful employees. Using this style is of mutual benefit -- it allows them to become part of the team and allows you to make better decisions.
I had to reread these definitions to see if I did not miss anything. I cannot define what leadership style entails the formation of cliques in the workplace using the definitions in the cited webpage. Of course I will be running afoul of my friend, who did advise me to not blog about work. But I do remember reading in one Readers' Digest a quote from The Rt Hon. Margaret Thatcher:
Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.

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