Mark Bowser

The Styles of Leadership By Mark Bowser

There are three basic styles of leadership. All of us use these three styles.  Now, let me pause here for a minute and say that I am not suggesting you change your style.  What I am suggesting is that you become flexible with the styles.  Would you agree with me that your style works some of the time and fails miserably some of the time? Why is that?  Because one style doesn’t fit every situation.  What I am suggesting is that you use a more flexible situational leadership when it comes to the Leadership Styles.  Use the style that best fits the situation and the people involved.

Having said that, what are the three Leadership Styles?  The styles are:

1.      Autocratic

2.      Democratic

3.      Free Rein

Let me explain what each style is and when to use it.  Autocratic: The Autocratic Leader is more like a general.  The commander of an army.  They are quick decision makers and they tell others what to do.  We saw this style a great deal in the corporate world in the 1950s through the 1980s.  We still see it today but not quite as much as those earlier decades.  Why did we see it so much in the past? Well, where did the CEOs and Presidents of organizations get their training?  Many of them came out of the military.   Is autocratic leadership a good style for the military?  Absolutely.  Particularly in war time.  Why?  Because we are in crisis or emergency mode. Decisions had to be made and made quickly or people would die. Autocratic leaders took action and won wars.

After the war, these leaders came back and took their place in the corporate world.  They discovered that their civilian counterparts didnt take to orders like their military counterparts.  This caused them some challenges.   The leaders discovered that their style didnt work in every situation.  They learned that they had to be flexible in their leadership styles.   There is still a place for autocratic leadership in the corporate world because we have emergencies and other situations that require quick decisions and quick actions.  But what we have to do in order to maximize our effectiveness is not get stuck in one style.  Use the style that best fits the situation.

Democratic: The second style of leadership is the Democratic style.  This is the leadership style of teamwork.  It is run by democracy.  We put things to a vote to make decisions and the majority rules.  This is great for building team loyalty and participation but let me ask you a question.  Should every decision at your office be put to a vote?  Of course not.  So, when is this a good leadership style to use?  When you need to get buy in (by having open discussions where you can answer questions and sell your vision) and when the decisions arent a major importance.  Use this style to create rapport and teamwork.

Free Rein: In this style of leadership, we get out of the way and let our team do their thing.  It is a style where there is definitely no micro management.  That is good.  The challenge is that your team members have to be  excellent, well trained, and go getters for it to succeed.  If you have a lot of entry level workers or workers who are new to the job, this is not the best style to be in.  Those workers will need more of your input and guidance for at least the short term.

Well, there we have it.   Three styles of leadership:  autocratic, democratic, and free rein.  They all have their pluses and they all have their minuses.  Use the style that best fits the situation and the team members involved and you will find yourself succeeding in all leadership situations.