I was recently asked by a client to help them work on their leadership style and to give pointers on how to lead effectively. My first question was to ask what their framework for leadership is. They had not considered that they could (and should) have a predominant framework through which they were leading. Having a specific leadership framework asks someone to consider what they are thinking and how their actions match with this framework at all times. It becomes a very specific lens through which their leadership is viewed, both by themselves, and by others.
Leadership Framework And Models Of Leadership
There are many different models of leadership: situational, autocratic, democratic, strategic, transformational, facilitative. What do you consider your leader model to be? Let’s look more closely at a few of the most common:
The autocratic model is a common position. This is where the leader decides what should be done, and then through command and control dictates how and when action should be taken. It is very effective in getting results, motivating people, and can get a lot achieved. However it is also extremely effective at alienating people, losing credibility, and breaking down relationships. It is the classic power distance relationship where the leader takes a position and then the followers must compliantly follow instructions.
The democratic model is a postmodern approach to leadership in which the leader embraces all parties, opinions, and the validity of relative truth in context. The trouble with this approach, of course, is that it takes a long time, and it is focused on consensus, when harmony may not be the overall objective. I see a lot of well-meaning leaders trying to take this position when in fact a more autocratic approach is required for success. Because we live in the era of personal choice, inclusivity, and an increased consideration of individual needs, the democratic approach has been favoured lately.
The situational leadership model cites seven power bases and states that the success of the leader is dependent on the use of power bases relative to the situational circumstances. These power bases are:
• Coercive power – based on fear, inducing compliance through reprimands or punishment
• Connection power – through connections with influential people and gaining favour with powerful people
• Expert power – possession of knowledge, expertise, and skill to influence others
• Information power – access to information that is useful to others
• Legitimate power – through their position in the hierarchy in the organization, they expect compliance
• Referent power – based on personal traits, being liked, admired and identified with by the followers
• Reward power – the ability to provide rewards which people want
The Leadership Framework – More Thought Needed?
(There is a range of maturity with utilising these different power bases, from coercive at the bottom, through to expert at the top.)
This is by no means an exhaustive list; it’s not even a favoured list of leadership positions. However it creates great stimulus, and gets people thinking about how they want to lead. Are they a charismatic, servant, or transactional leader? How are these questions important to you as a leader? How can this start to help you from a leadership framework?
Having discussed these with the client, we started to map out what model they wanted to use in leading their team effectively.
Once you decide which style you lean towards, you’ll have a real idea as to what leadership framework you want to promote or focus on for being able to make decisions and understand the drive behind your core leadership values. You can find more insights by looking at our leadership elearning or reviewing our many leadership skills blog posts and insights.