#512  from Innovative Leader Volume 10, Number 1          January 2001

How to Lead for Results
by Wolf J. Rinke, Ph.D.

Dr. Rinke is a speaker, management consultant, executive coach and editor of the free electronic newsletters The Winning Manager and Make It a Winning Life.  He can be reached at 410-531-9280, wolfrinke@aol.com or at www.wolfrinke.com. He is author of Winning Management: 6 Fail-Safe Strategies for Building High-Performance Organizations (Achievement Publishers, Clarksville, MD, 1997). 

Which leadership strategies will give you the results you want? The answer has become a lot clearer as a result of exciting new research reported by Daniel Goleman in the March-April 2000 issue of the Harvard Business Review. Goleman and investigators from the consulting firm Hay/McBer studied a random sample of 3,871 executives and found that the most effective leaders choose from six distinctive leadership styles, depending on the situation, and what they want to get accomplished.

The research investigated how each of the six leadership styles correlated with the specific components of the organization’s climate. The six climate drivers are: flexibility--employee’s ability to innovate without excessive rules and regulations; responsibility--how responsible employees feel towards the organization; standards--the level of standards prescribed in the organization; rewards--the accuracy of performance feedback and rewards; clarity--how clear employees are about the mission, vision and core values; and commitment--employee’s commitment to a common purpose. They found that leaders who used styles that positively impacted on an organization’s climate had dramatically better financial results. Climate, the researches found, was responsible for a third of a leader’s desired results. (The other two were economic conditions and competitive dynamics.)

Leadership Styles

Here are the six leadership styles in order of their impact on an organizational climate (correlations are shown in parentheses) and the situations in which they provide the best results:

1. Coercive.
This is a leader who demands immediate compliance. The phrase most descriptive of this leader is: "Do what I tell you!" This style can destroy your organizational climate. Because the downside is far greater than the upside, it should only be used with extreme caution. It is useful in an emergency, and may work in a crisis, a "turnaround" situation or as a last resort with a problem employee. This leadership style has the most negative impact (-.26) on the overall organizational climate, especially on responsibility and flexibility. Avoid this style except in an emergency.

2. Pacesetting.
This is a leader who sets extremely high standards for performance. The phrase most descriptive of this leader is: "Do as I do, now!" This style can destroy a good climate. It only works with a highly motivated and competent team who are able to "read the leader’s mind." Others will feel overwhelmed and give up, because they cannot see themselves reach unrealistic standards. This style has virtually the same negative impact (-.25) on the overall organizational climate, especially on rewards and commitment. Use this style sparingly!

3. Coaching.
This is a leader who is focused on developing people for the future. The phrase most descriptive of this leader is: "Try this." Coaching leaders are great delegators, and are willing to put up with short-term failures, provided they lead to long-term development. This style works best when you want to help employees improve their performance or develop their
long-term strengths. This style has a positive impact (.42) on the overall organizational climate, especially on rewards, standards and clarity. Use this style when employees are interested and willing to learn and be coached.

4. Democratic.
This is a leader who achieves consensus thorough participation. The phrase most descriptive of this leader is: "What do you think?" This style builds trust, respect and commitment, and works best when you want to receive input or get employees to "buy-in" or achieve consensus. It doesn’t work under severe time constrains or if employees are confused or uninformed. If handled correctly, this style has a positive impact (.43) on the overall organizational climate, especially on rewards and clarity. Use this style when you have ample time and are working with employees who are knowledgeable and informed.

5. Affiliative.
This is a leader who is interested in creating harmony and building emotional bonds with employees. The phrase most descriptive of this leader is: "People come first." This style works best when you want to motivate employees, especially when they face stressful situations, when you want build team harmony, improve communication, increase morale or repair broken trust. This style has a positive impact (.46) on the overall organizational climate, especially on rewards and clarity. Because this style has virtually no downside, it is the best overall approach. So if in doubt use the affiliative style.

6. Authoritative.
This is a leader who mobilizes people with an incredible level of enthusiasm and a clear vision. This is a visionary leader, who gives people lots of leeway to innovate and take calculated risks, provided that they move in the direction of the stated vision. The phrase most descriptive of this leader is: "Come with me." This style works best when change requires
a new vision or when employees are looking for a new direction. This style fails when employees are more knowledgeable or experienced than the leader, or if the authoritative style becomes overbearing. Provided that it is used with finesse, this style has the most positive impact (.54) on the overall organizational climate, especially on rewards and clarity. Use this style if you have a clear vision of the future and you can mobilize people to buy into your vision.

Back to our original question--which leadership style will give you the best results? The answer is: it depends on the situation. However Goleman's research has shown that leaders who have mastered four or more styles, especially the authoritative, affiliative, democratic and coaching styles, and who can move seamlessly from one to the other, depending on the situation, produce the most positive organizational climates and enjoy the greatest business successes.

1-50  51-100  101-150  151-200  201-250  251-300
301-350  351-400  401-450  451-500 501-550  551-600
601-650

©2006 Winston J. Brill & Associates. All rights reserved.