There are four types of leaders, each with a slightly different style, each with slightly different strengths. The four leadership styles are telling, selling, developing and delegating (Beck and Yeager, 2001).
The first leader exercises his power by directing or telling employees what to do, when to do it and how to do it. This is the most dominant form of leadership and it can be destructive to a team.
The second leader gets together with the employees and listens to their ideas before coming to a decision. This style of leadership can be criticizes as over-involving the employees rather than making a decision and delegating authority.
The third leader develops his ideas with his staff. The leader supports the employees and solves any problems that come up. In its negative form, this type of leadership is over-accommodating, as some leaders allow the employees to simply flounder around without stepping in and exercising authority.
The fourth leader delegates responsibility to others. This leader assumes that the employee knows what to do and assumes that the task is being done without further direction. In its negative form, the leader can be seen as abdicating; simply assuming the task is being carried out.
This paper aims to further describe each of the four types of leaders, identifying top leaders who use one of these styles as their main way of leading.
The first type of leader focuses more on the job and less on the group that is doing the job (Interaction, 1980). This leader often just states the problem and takes charge of the job, instructing other members on what to do as he is tacking the job. The leader single-handedly looks at the options, considers alternatives, chooses one, and tells his team members what to do. He does not consider how the group may feel about his decision. Negative characteristics of this type of leader include a quick temper, bossy nature, manipulative personality and unethical strategies of coercion.
The Telling style shown in this type of leadership is often characterized by one-way communication and a telling style of leadership. For example, if a new employee joins the team, the leader dominates his introduction, explaining how the team operates, when it meets, about the team procedures, and so on. This can be good, as there is little confusion about the job, but also can be bad, as there is little room for opinion.
Perhaps the most well-known leader that displayed this type of leadership style was Adolf Hitler. Hitler shunned serious, comprehensive intellectual advice and was ignorant of military affairs and foreign cultures (Megargee, 2003). He rejected any information that did not fit with his own personal preconceptions. Instead he relied on his instincts and a belief that his will to win would ultimately overcome every obstacle.
Hitler took the practice of personal command too far. No military leader can hope to understand the realities of the situation on the ground from hundreds of miles away, and yet he thought that he could control all but the smallest units at the front. At the end of 1942, for example, during the battle of Stalingrad, he actually had a street map of the city spread out before him so that he could follow the fighting, block by block. This is possibly the ultimate example of the Teller.
The second type of leader focuses on both the job and the group (Interaction, 1980). This type of leader typically states the problem and decides what to do, selling team members on his idea to gain the group's support. He explains how the idea will benefit the entire team and tries to persuade others to support him. The seller is characterized by two-way communication, support and positive reinforcement.
The seller is similar to the teller in that he provides the group's structure and makes the major decisions. The major difference between the teller and the seller is that the seller works toward getting the follower to understand and commit to the task. For instance, a leader may approach his groups with what he thinks is a good idea for a project. Rather than tell his team what to do, he will try to engage them in his cause and sell them on his idea.
Ray Kroc, the founder of the McDonald's Corporation, is an excellent example of this type of leader (Anderson, 1977). Many people agree that Kroc's leadership style consisted of many things, but the greatest was his ability to sell his ideas. He was a very successful example of the Seller because he was a great storyteller, a good socializer, and he had a way with words.
In addition, Kroc had the ability to sketch out his vision and allow others to participate in it with him. Whether he was talking about burgers or finance, he believed in what he was saying and many agree that this made him a great leader. His sense of conviction, optimistic attitude and confidence enabled his team to participate in the dream with him. Most important, he knew how to show his team that they would benefit by sharing in his dreams.
The third type of leader is the consultant. The consultant states the problem and, makes a decision only after consulting with team members (Interaction, 1980). The others give their ideas and feedback but the leader ultimately decides what to do.
The consultant is more focused on the group and less on the job, as is the joiner. The leader starts to relinquish much of the structure of how the job is to be accomplished to the team members. The consultant promotes two-way communication, offering support and consulting in decision-making. This leader is characterized by:
His continued support to the members.
His use of two-way communication.
He focuses more on the group and less on how the job is accomplished.
His team members play a key role in determining how the job will be done.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft Corp., is well-known for this type of leadership. According to Peter A. Laudenslager, (2003), Bill Gates employs an employee-focused form of leadership that empowers team members to make decisions and have control over their jobs. This type of leader overlooks self-interests to serve the needs of his team, by helping them grow professionally and emotionally. Gates' own words speak directly to this philosophy of leading change that benefits others:
want my children to grow up in a world where technology is a profoundly empowering tool. I want technology to enrich their learning and improve their quality of life. I'm totally committed to making this happen, both through Microsoft and through my own giving efforts, and in many ways it's more challenging than the hardest software problem. You can't just throw technology, or even money, at problems and make them go away -- you have to think hard about how you can have the greatest and most beneficial effect, and then take a long-term approach to making substantial, tangible change. (Gates, 2000)."
Gates demonstrated that he is a Consultant when he recently decided that Steve Balmer was better qualified for the position of CEO of Microsoft, and Gates assumed the position of Chief Software Architect, so that he could focus on product innovation. Still, he stays actively involved in front-line development, often consulting with individual developers regarding their progress.
When a leader delegates a task, he typically states the problem and delegates the decision-making to team members (Interaction, 1980). If their solution fits the problem as described, he accepts responsibility for it, as the leader. This style of leadership is often a "tradeoff" when the leader has tried to sell his idea and failed.
In most cases, the delegate leader is not largely involved with either the team or the job. This style is usually only utilized in more mature, established groups. The team basically takes charge. The following are characteristics of this type of leadership:
The leader does not work closely with anyone in particular but stands back and allows the team to plan and execute the job.
The team determines how the job is to be accomplished and as a group works to finish the project.
According to Don Kettl, President George W. Bush is a great example of this type of leader. "Focus on the big issues, decide on the major strategy questions and delegate the details. He's practiced it more than any president ever has," writes Kettl, a political scientist who studies the art of governing.
According to Kettl, Bush's leadership style involves oversimplifying, overreaching and detachment - all things that could "trip him up and even cripple his presidency." However, it could also lead to enormous success.
Basically, Bush can best be described like this: "He's big on delegating; he runs a tight ship; he likes to decide quickly and not look back; he favors a short agenda of big things over a long agenda of small things; he's willing…