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Leadership Styles

1 Introduction

In this section we are going to explore the leadership styles found in the research of three different researches:

1.      Kurt Lewin

2.      Renis Likert

3.      Daniel Goleman

1. Kurt Lewin’s Leadership Climates

In 1939 a German-American psychologist named Kurt Lewin categorized the environments in which people experience leadership into three different approaches. These approaches depend on the style of the leader and the result determines what Lewin described as the “leadership climate” of an organization.

The three different styles or climates are:

1.      Authoritative / Autocratic- An authoritarian leadership style is also referred to as an autocratic style. In this leadership style the leader makes the decisions with little or no input from the people who will be doing the actual work.

2.      Democratic / Participative- Participative leadership is also known as democratic leadership. In this leadership style, the leader consults with the group in order to make decisions.

   3 Laissez-faire / Delegative. This style is characterized by leaders who leave most of the    decision making process up to their teams with very little input. Leaders who use this style of leadership typically take a hands-off approach.

2. Renis Likert’s Management Systems

In the 1960s Renis Likert outlined four systems of management to show how managers and subordinates interact. The four systems are:

1 Exploitive Authoritative - In an exploitative system, subordinates follow the decisions of their leaders with little or no input. Aversion to negative consequences and punitive measures are the main motivating factor.

2        Benevolent Authoritative -The benevolent system also falls under the authoritarian style, but the negative factors are replaced with positive rewards as the primary motivating factor. This system will typically have more communication and more teamwork than the exploitative system

3        Consultative- This system involves a blend of Lewin’s authoritarian and participative style of leadership. There is more collaboration between leaders and their subordinates than either of the purely autocratic systems, but collaboration is usually limited to only certain areas.

4        Participative The participative system matches nicely with the participative climate from Lewin’s research. In this system there is much more interaction between leaders and subordinates and communication flows freely.


3.  Daniel Goleman Leadership Styles

Daniel Goleman is the author of Primal Leadership which categorizes leadership into six styles. These styles are:


These styles are:

1.      Visionary / Authoritative - A visionary leadership style focuses on the vision or where the organization needs to go while leaving the actual details up to the team. If

2.      Coaching - A leader who adopts a coaching style of leadership will do best working one-on-one with employees, helping them improve their skills, mentoring them and helping them better understand the goals of the organization and how those goals relate to their own personal development desires.

3.      Affiliative - Leaders who practice this style of leadership focus on group dynamics. Their goal is to create strong teams that work well together. This style focuses on lowering stress levels and creating good relationships between members of the team.

4.      Democratic - Democratic leadership involves allowing the group to collaboratively decide on the direction and goal. This style focuses on getting input from everyone and a high degree of involvement.

5.      Pacesetting - Pacesetting leaders focus on performance and typically set extremely high goals. This leads to an environment that is intensely focused on improvements or at least improvements as defined by the leader. This type of approach can get fast results from a competent skilled team, but over time the results of exclusively using this form of leadership is negative.

6.      Commanding / Coercive - As the name implies this is the leadership style typically associated with the military. It differs from the Visionary/Authoritative style in that instructions tend to be much more detailed instead of just focused on the end result. It differs from the Pacesetting style in that in that pacesetters are generally asking others to follow their lead and keep up, while command/coercive leaders are usually sending people out.