Executive LeadershipBy: Robert H. Kent, Ph.D., CMC
If you're lost trying to decide which leadership style to use, when, where and on whom, your confusion may be over. Evidence is mounting (including your own common sense) that some leadership practices are fundamental and these are basics that good leaders need at all times -- and perhaps little more.
Since the 1920's, there have been decades of research on leadership and management styles. The most popular concept is the "Situational" or "Contingency" approach whereby managers and/or leaders should adjust their leadership style for each situation they are in -- the "situation" being defined by many categories including the needs, wants, preferences, maturity level or other characteristics of the follower, as well as measures of the work being expected of the follower, the technology being used, the time required to make decisions, the faith that the leader has in the judgement of the followers and many more!
Depending, then, upon the "situation", a leader would choose the appropriate "style" or way of interacting with the follower or followers. And when it comes to "styles" to choose from, there are as many categories of leadership styles as there are writers in the field.
As a result, how to be an effective leader becomes a confusing maze. Interestingly, many managers and executives who profess to use a "situational approach" to leadership, can't enunciate what they really do.
However, there has been just as much research that questions the usefulness of a range of leadership styles. There is good evidence and strong argument that there is a one best way for managers and executives to lead people. No matter what your industry is or what the inclinations of your followers are, this one best way is to:
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