Much has been written on the styles of leadership and how they are applied
in given situations. Five styles of leadership generally are recognized.
1. Telling(or ordering). The leader alone identifies
the problem, makes the decisions, and directs the activities. The style
appears autocratic and may or may not involve the opinions of the group
2. Persuading (or selling). In this style of
leadership, the decision still is made by the leader. Having made the
decision, the leader must sell it to the group to get cooperation.
Consulting. Group members participate and provide input. The
leader may suggest a tentative decision or plan and get the group's reaction.
Having consulted the group, the-leader still makes the final decision, usually
based on group consensus. If consensus can not be reached, the group is
encouraged to note and follow the desires of the majority.
Delegating. The leader identifies the problem, sets certain
guidelines, boundaries, or rules, and then turns the problem over to the group
or one of its members. The leader accepts the decision of the group if it
falls within the boundaries and guidelines established. While authority may be
delegated, the responsibility must remain with the leader.
Joining. The leader steps down as leader and joins the group.
The leader agrees in advance to abide by the group's decisions. It is
important to remember that joining the group is still leadership. Before
deciding to use this style, the leader must carefully consider the resources
of the group and, if necessary, change to a more direct leadership style.
No single leadership style is "best." Each depends on the situation,
experience of the group members, and tasks to be done. As leadership styles
move from telling to joining, the leader's authority appears to diminish and
the group's participation increases. Selecting the appropriate style of
leadership is an act of leadership based on the nature of the situation and
the ability and experience of the group members. Leadership is a dynamic
process, varying from situation to situation with changes in leaders,
followers, goals, and circumstances.