So, then, which is the best leadership style? The simple answer is that there is no single “best” leadership style. It depends upon the situation.
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Styles of leadership authority are best displayed on a continuum, from the autocratic to democratic. Very seldom will “autocratic” style be effective in health care settings.
In the “consultative” style, the manager presents ideas and attempt to sell the subordinates the decision. The “participative” style seeks subordinates opinion, the area for decision-freedom for subordinates being greater and use of authority by manager being smaller.
Within a “democratic” style subordinates have relatively large area of decision freedom.
The above model basically reflects factors in manager’s decision making, but it is useful in understanding leadership behaviour.
All effective managers are also good leaders.
Based on various research studies in the West, the important ones being the Ohio State University and the management grid study the following four basic styles of leader behaviour commonly encountered in organisations emerge.
1. Leader behaviour style 1 (Directing):
These managers are highly authoritative, have little trust in subordinates, motivate people through fear and punishment with occasional rewards, engage only in downward communication, and limit decision-making to the top (exploitative authoritative style).
2. Leader behaviour style 2 (Coaching):
These managers have confidence and trust in subordinates, motivate with rewards and some fear and punishment, permit some upward communication, solicit some ideas and opinions from subordinates, and allow some delegations of decision making but with close control (Benevolent authoritative style).
3. Leader behaviour style 3 (Supporting):
These managers have substantial but not complete confidence and trust in subordinates, usually try to make constructive use of subordinates’ ideas and opinions, use motivation rewards and some participation, engage in communication both down and up, make broad policy and general decisions at the top with specific decisions at lower levels and act consultatively in other ways (consultative leadership style).
4. Leader behaviour style 4 (Delegation):
These managers have complete trust and confidence in subordinates in all matters, invite ideas and opinions from subordinates and constructively use them, engage in much communication down and up and with peers, encourage decision making throughout the organisation, and otherwise operate with themselves and their subordinates as a group (participative group leadership).