Leadership Styles

Leadership Styles

“I think it’s best to invite people to sit around a table and collaborate on a shared vision.”  “I think it’s best to just tell ‘em and get on with it.”  “I think it’s best to inspire them.” 

You’re probably no stranger to this conversation.  Discussing how best to lead people is fascinating.  There are so many examples of different kinds of leaders and personalities who have somehow managed to move a group or organisation forward.  There are pros and cons to different styles.  There are different ways of examining leadership styles, the following was created by and adapted from Daniel Goleman. 

Visionary – “What if? imagine a day, we could do this”

Pros – This will motivate a group towards a better future.  Visionary leaders have a good ability to see a different future and believe in it enough to teach others why.  They tend to be good at explaining the future in pictures and stories and most importantly the enable others to see the same picture.

Cons – The potential pit fall comes if strategy does not follow.  It can leave people wondering what to do and how to hit the goal and they can end up discouraged or frustrated without direction.

Long term effect on climate – most positive

Coaching – “Can I help you, could I teach you?”

Pros – Coaches work really well when building for the future.  They draw out the strengths in others and help to cultivate and develop them.  As this happens through a team setting the overall effect is great. 

Cons – As a coach will be drawn to helping people, they can risk drifting into micromanagement when working with individuals.

Long term effect on climate – positive

Affiliative – “How do we feel, is everyone ready?”

Pros – The group overall will feel like a valuable part of the team.  They will been spoken and listened to and their ideas understood.  This can help get ‘buy in’ from a team to a leader as an emotional bond will be formed.

Cons – The risk will be that progress may take time without more visionary leaders as collaboration can sometimes lack direction.  A temptation may be to please everybody.

Long term effect on climate – positive

Democratic – “Can we agree, what does everyone think.?”

Pros – Everyone will feel heard and understood and had a chance to contribute to the way forward.  Due to consensus decision making processes everyone will have a steak in the organisation.  No one will then carry the burden for decisions.

Cons – The focus may be too focussed on waiting for agreement not about progress.  Goals may never be met but it can be justified by the method. 

Long term effect – positive

Pacesetting – “Keep up, we need to get on with it.”

Pros – A pacesetting leader will feel like more progress can be made and will work towards that.  Leading by example is driven mainly by hitting goals.  This can help a stagnant or failing organisation move forwards.  If the team is highly competent this can work really well.

Cons – Hitting goals can become more important than the goals themselves and people can feel like a cog in the machine.

Overall effect on climate – negative

Commanding – “Do this, here are the boundaries, have you finished?”

Pros – This kind of style can help an organisation that may be in crisis, division or pressured by a deadline.  It can establish a goal and direction quickly. 

Cons – People will feel restricted and potentially disrespected.  If people do not feel important and part of the team they may leave for a better option.

Overall effect on climate – negative


Looking at the different styles it is useful to reflect on a few things;

1 – What is your natural leadership style? 

Being aware of this is important.  We can end up bouncing from room to room, conversation to conversation and phone call to email.  If we’re not really aware of how we’re communicating and planning we can end up causing reactions in the team that are unintentional. 

2 – What does your group need?

Take some time to consider what season you are in.  Are you kick starting a new ministry?  Are you gathering a fractured team?  Has there been a recent disappointment or a painful situation?  Are you growing faster than ever?  Your team may need a delicate approach from you to help bring out the best in them.  Is it time for conversation, healing or to run faster than ever?

3 – How can you utilise a different style?

It is very important to be authentic.  There is no intent to suggest being anything other than yourself.  However, it might be possible to operate slightly differently or to take time to plan what you might say or do given the circumstances at hand.  Do you need to help them dream or do you need to bring them together first?

Maybe you could have a think about your group, what is needed during this season and how you can be intentional to serve them with your leadership.

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