I know some leaders that can walk into a room and within a few minutes have people thinking, “How did we do anything before this guy joined?”
On the other hand, I have met other leaders who simply shy away from any uncomfortable situation.
Effective leaders are flexible enough to adjust their leadership style and techniques to the people they lead and the demands they face.
Regardless of your particular style or level of comfort, we need to develop different types of leadership because, after all, our Soldiers need different styles of leadership.
For example, some Soldiers respond best to coaxing, suggestions or gentle prodding whereas others require a swift kick in the rear!
Competent leaders mix elements of all leadership styles to match the place, task and people involved.
Here is my list of the 5 Leadership Styles most effective in the Army today.
#1. Directing Style:
The directing style centers on you, the leader.
Typically in this instance, you do not solicit input from subordinates but rather give detailed instructions on how, when and where you want something performed.
Then, you supervise very closely.
This style is particularly appropriate when you don’t have the chance to explain things (i.e. combat situations, or with inexperienced subordinates).
I strongly caution, that while this style is particularly useful in certain situations, you must use it sparingly.
The most effective way to utilize this style is after you have developed a climate of trust and teamwork within your unit.
This way, when you switch gears your Soldiers will know that it is the circumstances that have prompted your change in style.
It is also important that your subordinates understand the directions you have provided so they can assist in supervision.
#2. Participating Style:
This technique centers on both you, the leader and your subordinates.
You actively ask for input, information, and recommendations.
However, you still make the final decision on what to do.
This style is particularly effective when there is the appropriate amount of time to have that exchange.
I would say that the biggest benefit of this approach is that when your subordinates help develop the plan, it becomes their plan which creates a huge incentive to complete the mission.
Again, caution must be used here.
Just because you ask for advice, doesn’t mean that you are obligated to follow it.
At the end of the day, you alone are responsible for your decisions and plans.
It is probably best that you make the fact clear that you will make the final decision from the start.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- The Top 15 George C. Marshall Quotes & Leadership Lessons
- 12 Common Army Leadership Mistakes
- Being Calm, Cool and Collected: Leadership Tip for Army Leaders
- Saving Private Ryan Review: Top 10 Leadership Lessons from the Movie
- How to Develop Your Military Leadership Skills: 13 Ways to Do It
#3. Delegating Style:
This style gives your subordinates the ability to solve issues and make decisions on their own.
This typically is the case when you have experienced, seasoned subordinates.
While this style may seem to be best when dealing with senior NCOs, you still must provide the necessary resources and a clear understanding of your intent and the mission.
Again, always remember that you are responsible for what happens and when delegating, you must hold your subordinates accountable for their actions.
Ask them questions to ensure they completely understand the tasks they hold.
#4. Transformational Style:
Transformational leadership focuses on inspiration and change.
This style of leadership emphasizes individual growth (i.e. professional and personal) and organizational enhancement.
For this to work, you must empower and motivate your Soldiers, first as Soldiers and then as a group.
Additionally, an important aspect of this style requires you as a leader to communicate reasons behind your decisions and/or actions.
This allows your Soldiers to have a broad understanding and exercise their own initiative when the opportunity arises.
This leadership style has a huge payoff when you have Soldiers with great skills, knowledge and who may have better ideas on how to accomplish the mission.
And, you are training your soldiers to become leaders.
#5. Transactional Style:
To me, transactional leadership is like a “parent-child” relationship.
With this approach, you motivate your Soldiers to work by offering rewards or threatening punishment.
This approach has its pros and cons depending on the situation.
For example, safety is an area where leaders would typically offer incentives for conformance, but coming down very hard when a safety policy is ignored also creates conformance.
But, regardless, if you only utilize this approach you will never see any commitment outside of the short-term or specific area of intent.
And, you need to instill that there may not always be a reward.
As Napoleon once said, “A man does not have himself killed for a few halfpence a day or for a petty distinction. You must speak to the soul in order to electrify the man.”
Basically, as leaders, in order to get the best performance out of their Soldiers must figure out what they need and what they’re able to do even when they don’t know themselves.
Once you have a grasp on this, using these different leadership styles will help you accomplish great things.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
What is your most used leadership style?
What leadership style do you dislike the most?
Just post them in the comments area below.