ILM Award First Line Management M3.10
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Before we discuss what leadership styles there are it is important to firstly define what the difference is between management and leadership. The biggest difference between managers and leaders is the way they motivate people to follow them. Managers have a position given to them by the company. Their subordinates work for them to complete tasks and in turn manage situations as they occur. Leaders on the other hand do not have subordinates when they are leading. Instead, formal control is given up, as to lead is have followers and this is always a voluntary activity. Telling people what to do does not inspire them to follow, rather than to be effective they must want to follow. There are many forms of leadership styles, but based on Kurt Lewin’s models from the 1940’s we will discuss the four major traits, authoritarian, democratic, consultative and laissez faire. First, authoritarian leaders are best described as those who dictate orders to the employees and provide clear expectations for what needs to be achieved, when it should be completed, and how. The decisions are quick because there is no consultation or independent input from the rest of the team and typically they make choices based on their own ideas and judgments and rarely accept advice. There is also a clear division between the leader and the followers and will dictate working methods and processes to their team. The problems of relying too much on an autocratic style is that it can lead to poor quality decisions because of the lack of input. Team morale can be low with leaders being viewed as bossy when they are unable to contribute ideas. This can result in high staff turnover as they will be unlikely to be felt as valued employees. However, this does not mean there is no place for an autocratic approach. This style of management is often used in an emergency or when speed is more important to achieve a goal efficiently and the leader may have more experience and knowledge than the team members. For a consultative management approach the views and opinions are surveyed from within their staff allowing them to feel involved and utilise their skills, but the ultimate decision will rest with the leader. In this approach the leader will attempt to use persuasion rather than the direct route of an autocratic style. The leader in this scenario will not make a major decision without first getting the input from those that will be affected. The benefits of consulting with your team members is that it can create ownership when goals and targets are set, and when a problem needs to be solved. The consequences however can be a delayed decision as it will take time to formulate ideas and discuss the best course of action. Subsequently and, most importantly, if the consultation process is badly managed then it can be seen as manipulation and will not create the correct response of ownership and trust. For the democratic style the manager will delegate away authority and decision making then the team members on a greater level to the consultative style allowing the majority to choose their own solutions where the team leader will act as a coach willing to accept the team’s ideas over their own. This encourages a knowledgeable team to be far more effective and can lead to higher productivity. From a motivational perspective by allowing a sense of belonging to the decision making process the team will feel more involved and committed to ensuring that the end results are achieved. The downsides to the democratic style is the time delay in formulating ideas and solutions which can result in a loss of the bigger picture where roles are unclear and a decision is needed quickly. In some cases the team may lack the knowledge to achieve what is being discussed and a more hands on approach would be needed. Democratic leadership therefore works best in...
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