Monthly Archives: April 2013

Kenya: Styles of Leadership


COERCIVE – The fundamental element of the Coercer’s leadership style is control – control of jobs, of rewards, and of people’s actions to the extent the Coercer can achieve it. Results are obtained through direct, explicit instructions on expectations of a job and how the work is to be performed. This style of leadership demands obedience and requires a good deal of reporting back to the leader. Negative, personalized feedback and punishment or threats of discipline are the most common methods the Coercer uses to achieve results.

TASK-ORIENTED – Getting a job done dominates the concern of this kind of leader, to the complete exclusion of other concerns, such as subordinates’ satisfaction or well being. Job outcome is what matters, and the leader may employ authoritarian, coercive, or democratic means to achieve that end. The Task-oriented leader actively defines structure, the work to be done, and the roles of subordinates in getting it accomplished. Task-oriented leaders put structures in place, plan, organize, and monitor. If the Task-Oriented leader is to be effective over an extended period of time, it is probably necessary for him/her to learn to employ skills embodied in the Affiliative and/or Democratic styles in order to sustain motivation and retain staff , particularly in the American culture. Task-orientation has been shown to be an effective method of leadership in some Asian cultures (Fernando).

AUTHORITARIAN/AUTHORITATIVE – Central to the operation of the Authoritarian’s style is the leader’s responsibility for outcomes. While some input is sought from subordinates, the leader regards his/her influence as the key element in any major decision or job outcome. The Authoritative leader accomplishes ends through imparting a clear, compelling vision, sees to it that the vision is built into strategic planning, and that it guides action throughout the organization. The Authoritarian provides clear directions, monitors progress closely, and convinces subordinates of the position s/he wishes them to adopt by explaining why certain things are expected, done, or required and how individual actions fit into the larger picture. The feedback an Authoritarian offers may be positive or negative but clear, and treatment of subordinates tends to be firm but fair. This kind of leadership is the most common one in Asia. It may shade over into a Directive style when subordinates are given very little power or decisionmaking authority.

BUREAUCRATIC – Bureaucrat leadership may be similar to Authoritarian, although what is central are rules. The Bureaucrat operates “by the book” and requires subordinates to follow procedures and rules to the letter. If rules and regulations do not cover a situation, the Bureaucratic leader looks to superiors for guidance. The style can be effective if staff must repeat the same tasks over and over, are required to fully understand procedures and standards, are working with dangerous or delicate equipment, or are engaged in situations that involve significant hazard to themselves or the public. The means of achieving staff compliance with rules may borrow from the Coercive through the Affiliative or Democratic styles. The Bureaucratic style has negative effects on flexibility, initiative, relationships between staff, and motivation. However, it also provides consistency of approach.

AFFILIATIVE – An Affiliator’s primary concern is the well being of his/her workforce and, probably, his/her own popularity. Task outcome may even be placed at a lower level of priority to that of subordinates’ job satisfaction. The style can inspire deep loyalty within the work group. It can also foster free, open communication that inspires trust, a free flow of ideas, innovation, and risk taking. The Affiliator’s positive feedback for accomplishment gives subordinates a great sense of having been recognized, which is excellent motivation for even greater achievement. The Affiliator may not give clear directions or set specific goals. S/he may avoid hard discussions that can cause bad feeling and may reward personal characteristics rather than job performance and attainment of outcomes. Affiliators can become serious negative factors in the work situation if their inaction takes them into the Laissez-Faire style. Most highly Affiliative leaders need to learn to use some skills of the Task-Oriented or Authoritative styles to ensure that their organization remains productive and on track.

LAISSEZ-FAIRE – It is difficult to think of a Laissez-Faire leader as a leader, since his/her objective is to avoid influencing subordinates. Thus, subordinates have a great deal of autonomy and authority. The Laissez-Faire style of leadership can lead to organizational ineffectiveness if there is, in addition, no control over processes or weak or absent organization. Desired outcomes may not be achieved if there is no systematic approach to problem solving. Individual’s goals and agendas can come to replace those of the organization or workgroup. However, under the right circumstances, such as when a workforce is highly educated, skilled, and experienced, and when the goals of the organization are clear to everyone, or when outside consultants are often used, the approach can foster creativity, independent thinking, and personal responsibility. Laissez-Faire may be the style of choice when the workforce is considerably more technically knowledgeable than the leader is.

EMPOWERING – A new, possibly more effective kind of Laissez-Faire leadership is Empowering leadership which relies on delegation of responsibility to subordinates. When well practiced, it is built on clear lines of authority, responsibility, and roles and well-developed structures for work flow and problem solving. This is a relatively new style and is used in American companies having autonomous, possibly geographically dispersed, divisions. A few younger Asian business leaders have adopted the Empowering style (Quinn).

DEMOCRATIC/PARTICIPATIVE – A Democratic leader “believes in” people and relies on the functioning of a group or team to achieve results. Subordinates take part in the decisionmaking process, and decisions result from a group consensus. There are frequent meetings, and subordinates are listened to by the leader. The style tends to foster responsibility, flexibility, and high morale. Because staff are engaged in decisionmaking and planning, there is a tendency for them to be more realistic about what is and is not possible. The Democratic leader considers close supervision unnecessary after trust has been established, and negative feedback is offered sparingly. Participative leadership is more common in Europe and is sometimes required by law (as in northern Europe, especially Germany). A variant of Participative leadership with cultural overtones is common in Japan as well as some other Asian countries.

PACESETTER/CHARISMATIC – Pacesetters are star performers who lay sole claim to the limelight and seek it as a core goal. A Pacesetter would rather do a job him/herself and is so good at what s/he does that s/he is reluctant to delegate. Leadership is achieved through setting an example, rather than through instruction or intentional staff development, establishment of high standards, and through imparting enthusiasm. People follow the Pacesetter because of who s/he is and/or what s/he can do, rather than because of his/her leadership skill. The Pacesetter tends to become coercive when a subordinate fails to live up to expectations or when there is trouble. What succeeds as a Charismatic leader in one country may be an entirely different kind of person from the one who succeeds as a Pacesetter in another. Who “looks like” a leader depends heavily on culture.

COACHING – The Coach rests success on development of subordinates’ and his/her own capabilities. “Coaching leaders help employees identify their unique strengths and weaknesses and tie them to their personal and career aspirations. . . They make agreements with their employees about their role and responsibilities in enacting development plans, and they give plentiful instruction and feedback” (Goleman). Coaches are good at delegating, build skills by varying staff’s assignments, and tolerate short-term failure in the interest of long- term learning. Goals and expectations may not be clearly set; rather the Coach encourages subordinates to set their own goals and develop their own work plans. While the Coach’s expectations tend to be high, the Coach may have difficulty communicating expectations or motivating through inspiration, but results tend to improve due to the highly positive effects on climate and staff competence and knowledge. The ongoing dialogue with the Coaching leader keeps staff informed of the direction in which the organization is moving and the role the staff members’ job plays in reaching objectives. Staff often respond to the Coaching style with high commitment.

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