Last edited 03 Jan 2021

Leadership styles

The manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people is the leadership style:

  • Autocratic leaders make managerial decisions by themselves. They tell their employees what they want done and how they want it accomplished, without getting the advice of their followers.
  • Consultive autocrats use information from the members, but keep all substantive decision-making authority to themselves.
  • Consensus managers tend to throw open the problem to the group for discussion and allow or encourage the group to make the decision.
  • Shareholder managers, give the group the ultimate authority for the final decision.

The U.S. Army Handbook (1973) Military Leadership, describes leadership styles slightly differently as; authoritarian or autocratic, participative or democratic and delegative or free reign.

Forces such as time availability, the type of the task, information availability and team members ability and skills should influence the style adopted. Slevin (1983) suggests ‘…the key to successful leadership is knowing what your dominant style is and being able to modify that style depending upon the contingencies of the various leadership situations that you face’.

In modern management there has been a change from dealing with problems on a one-on-one basis to solving problems collectively, involving everyone who has a contribution to make. This concept is known as 'shared leadership'. As the complexity of knowledge increases, the need for shared leadership also increases.

Shared leadership is about letting the project team take over as much of the leadership role as they will accept. The project manager lets go of some authority and shares it with the team. As the team members assume more of the leadership role, they show increased willingness to participate in problem solving.

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