A leadership style is a method by a person or organization to provide direction, implement plans, and motivate other people. Leadership is commonly defined as the process of motivating a group of people to act toward the accomplishment of a common task. As there are several ways of motivating people, there are also several styles of leadership according to experts.
Leadership and leadership styles
Leadership is a significant trait for project managers to have. It spells the difference between average and superior performance of a project team. Great project leaders can effectively influence others with minimal use of authority. They can also transition from one leadership style to another, depending on a need or circumstance.
Over the years, experts have identified different leadership styles. Some experts identify three major styles that produced variations, while others identify six different styles.
Three major leadership styles with variations
- Directions go from top to bottom
- Roles and tasks are defined without question
- Ideal for organizations with new, unskilled, or unmotivated workers
- Effective on short-term projects or during a crisis.
- VARIATIONS: authoritative, persuasive, paternalistic
- Promotes sharing of responsibility
- Everyone is involved in decision-making although the manager makes the final call after listening to suggestions
- Team members given responsibility tend to become more enthusiastic and get more involved
- The timeline to decide expands due to consultation
- Has the potential to get nothing done.
- VARIATIONS: consultative, participative, collaborative
- Gives little to no guidance to the team
- Allows them to make their own decisions
- Ideal for flat or decentralized organizations, suited for teams composed of highly qualified members or highly trusted by the manager
- Opportunity for increased innovation
- Risks of lack of focus and poor productivity and coordination
Six specific leadership styles
- Coercive or Directive – Immediate compliance, “Do what I tell you.”
- Authoritative or Visionary – Provide long-term direction and vision, “Follow me.”
- Affiliative – Create harmony by connecting people to each other, “People come first.”
- Democratic – Build commitment and generate new ideas, “What do you think?”
- Pace-setting – Accomplish tasks to a high standard of excellence, “Do as I do, now.”
- Coaching – Long-term professional development of others, “Try this.”
Books for different leadership styles
1. The Power of Project Leadership
Author Susanne Madsen is a veteran project manager and internationally recognized project leadership coach. The second edition paperback has 330+ pages divided into four chapters. Chapter 3 details the seven keys to project leadership, discussing topics that include the importance of being authentic, leading with vision, and improving and innovating, among others. Readers describe it as a great, inspiring, and actionable book on leadership.
2. Leaders Eat Last
Author Simon Sinek is a best-selling author who wrote about great leaders and high-performing organizations. This 2017 book is divided into 8 parts and 27 chapters. It discusses why it is important not only for good leaders to have professional competence, but to truly care for those who are entrusted to their care. The book details the different elements and challenges that leaders face and how certain practices in organizations enable them to succeed in good and bad times. Customers describe it as interesting, informative, and easy to read.
3. The Leadership Playbook
Author Nathan Jamail is an author, executive coach, and motivational speaker. This 2014 book discusses the differences between managing and coaching. It is divided in 3 parts and 12 chapters. It covers topics like the principles of coaching, how to be an effective coach in an organization, and ways to create a coaching culture. Readers praise the book for its great examples, action items, and being an easy read.
4. Dare to Lead
Author Brené Brown, PhD, is a research professor at the University of Houston and University of Texas at Austin. This 2018 book focuses on how organizations of all sizes, from small startups and family-based businesses to Fortune companies are trying to find the answer to cultivate daring and courageous leaders. The book is divided into four parts, but the content is from Dr. Brown’s over two decades of research into hundreds of organizations to give practical advice how to be a daring leader. Customers describe the book as amazing, honest, inspiring, and provocative.
5. Turn the Ship Around!
Author Captain David Marquet (Ret.) is a former commanding officer of the submarine USS Santa Fe, an international keynote speaker, and Wall Street Journal best selling author. The book is divided into 4 parts and 29 chapters. It tells the story of Captain Marquet while he served as the commanding officer of the Santa Fe. He transformed a team of sailors with poor morale with poor performance into a fully engaged, high-performing, award-winning group of leaders. Readers describe it as an easy and excellent read about empowering the workforce and specific mechanisms about how leaders should create other leaders.
Resources for different leadership styles
The following are helpful sites and links to learn more about the different leadership styles:
Questia is an online library that includes thousands of academic books and millions of journal, magazine, and newspaper articles.
SHRM is a membership-based community that offers professional HR assistance, tools, educational offerings, and networking.
IMD is a provider of management and leadership courses.
Top Project Management Tools for Your Leadership Style
Wrike is the most powerful work management platform on the market, enabling teams to plan projects and collaborate in real time. Our award-winning software is trusted by 20,000+ companies across the globe, including Sony, Estée Lauder, and Siemens.
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monday.com Work OS is an award-winning no-code work management platform that helps teams manage projects and workflows more efficiently.
Used by 152,000+ customers worldwide, this fully customizable software lets you plan, manage, and track every project in one place. monday.com offers time-saving and easy-to-use features such as automations, time tracking, document sharing, and real-time collaboration. Multiple board views such as Gantt and Kanban help you structure and navigate tasks and projects the way you prefer, and dashboards give a high-level overview of your progress.
In addition, integrations with apps such as Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, and Excel, allow you to easily continue working with your favorite tools from within the platform. monday.com also offers dedicated solutions, such as monday dev and monday sales CRM, designed to answer the needs of specific industries.
Start and deliver each billable and non-billable service by centralizing communication. Collaborate with teammates on tasks in real-time, streamline best practices, and let clients in on progress.
Stop spreading work across platforms. Subscribe to tasks to track progress, assign date ranges and deadlines, and check granular steps off with TODOs.
Smartsheet is a leading work execution platform that has real-time work management features, collaboration and automation tools. Users are presented with a familiar and easy-to-use spreadsheet-like interface. However, it has enterprise-grade capabilities that even Fortune 500 companies like Cisco, Bayer, HP, and PayPal are confident to adopt in their business. Strong project management features enable teams to utilize different views of real-time data, and switch easily from Gantt, card, grid and calendar views. Smartsheet has automatic update requests, and can be used for waterfall and agile projects, product launch, sprint planning, and more. The resource management feature provides users the visibility who is busy, and who is not, in real-time. They can also attach files, share sheets, get notified, view the activity log, export, email, and print.
BigTime is a leading Professional Services Automation (PSA) software that helps you scale your business by giving you the ability to track and act on your operational metrics. Even with remote work, easily manage time, expenses, and billing for multiple projects all at once, and quickly identify areas of opportunity with advanced features like resource allocation and custom reporting. With BigTime Wallet and client portal, you can get paid faster using custom invoicing and payment processing.