Leadership Styles

John Adair’s three circles

  • Task needs include setting a clear goal and objectives, and organisation and management of the process.

  • Team needs are things like effective interaction, support, shared work and communication within the team and with other teams.

  • Individual needs will of course vary from person to person, but the effective leader will pay attention to, and deal with, how each person is behaving and feeling.

Organisational climate

Environment of an organisation – the “climate”

  1. Its flexibility
  2. Sense of responsibility
  3. Level of standards
  4. Accuracy of performance feedback and rewards
  5. Clarity people have about mission and values
  6. Commitment to a common purpose

More on organisational climate

Leadership styles

Leadership styles are the patterns of behaviour adopted by a leader. They include many practical activities like:

  • Listening
  • Setting standards and targets
  • Developing action plans
  • Directing others
  • Giving feedback
  • Supporting and challenging others
  • Developing members of the team, and
  • Establishing effective working relationships with members of the team

More on leadership styles

Using different leadership styles

Coercive leaders Tells people what to do, expects immediate compliance, reinforces to ensure it Demand immediate compliance “Do what I say”

Often destructive, can be occasionally used in difficult circumstances.

Authoritative leaders Provides long term direction and vision for others, explains the ‘big picture’ Mobilise people toward a vision “Come with me”

Requires enthusiasm and clear vision. Most effective leadership style generally. Leader states direction but allows people leeway to devise their own means, gives clear performance feedback. May not work in a team of peers or experts.

Affiliative leaders Creates harmony among the team and between self and team members,

considers the whole person

Create emotional bonds and harmony “People come first”

Values peoples emotions more than tasks / goals. Owns emotions openly. Focus on praise can allow poor performance to continue uncorrected or give the impression that mediocrity is tolerated – so use in conjunction with authoritative style.

Democratic leaders Builds commitment among the team by involvement, generates new ideas with the team, aims for consensus Build consensus through participation “Lets…”

Increases flexibility and responsibility, Requires more meetings, can leave people feeling directionless. Can generate new ideas.

Pacesetting leaders Leads by example, focuses on accomplishing tasks to high standards of excellence, expects team members to follow Expect excellence and self direction “Do what I do”

Pacesetting leaders set high standards and exemplify them. Can destroy climate. People need to see how what they are doing fits into the overall vision.

Coaching leaders Focuses on the long term development of the team, supports through advice and encouragement. Develop people for the future “I believe in you, I am investing in you, I expect your best efforts”

Counselling style. Helps develop people. Encourages delegation. Looks at strengths and weaknesses.

Another leadership style set

  • Autocratic
    • Leader decides
    • Leader informs staff of decision
    • Leader ensures necessary action taken
  • Charismatic
    • Leader decides
    • Leader “sells” necessary action to staff
    • Leader ensures necessary action taken
  • Consultative
    • Leader asks for information before making decision
    • Leader makes final decision
    • Leader ensures necessary action taken
  • Democratic
    • Leader joins staff as equal, ensuring that everybody has input
    • Staff and leader take collective responsibility for action
    • Leader provides support
  • Laissez faire
    • Leader leaves staff to make own decision
    • Leader is informed by staff of decision
    • Staff take responsibility for action


  • Reframing, transforming
  • “Aha, now I see it”
  • Understandable
  • Live the vision
  • Remember, the vision is just a dream without the work of others

Leaders need…

  • Room to move
  • Self-belief
  • Awareness of other worlds
  • A capacity for loneliness

Challenges and solutions

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