Leadership differ greatly in personal style and these differences really matter. Consider the behaviour of two different types of teachers. In one class a teacher truly “ran the show”. He/she took firm control of all the class activities and left no doubt about who was in charge. He/she made all decisions and never asked for students’ input. He/she even posted a long list of rules in front of the room, telling learners to do or not to do in a wide range of situations. Another teacher offered a sharp contrast to this approach. He/she seemed to enjoy sharing his/her authority with students and let the class vote on many decisions. And while he/she too had rules, they were much more flexible and were never posted in a formal list. Can you guess which style of leadership was superior to the other in terms of encouraging better performance? Obviously the second one, since students were more relaxed, felt encouraged and was happy to work in collaboration with their teacher. As head teacher what leadership style you follow with your teachers and students.
Bradford and Lippitt refer to four types of leadership styles. For each of these styles they postulate the characteristics, group reactions and group personalities. Let us study them briefly:
- Autocratic style: An autocratic leader is a rigid disciplinarian and believes that praise will spoil the students. He/she constantly checks subordinates’ performance, gives orders and expects immediate acceptance. He/she is status-minded and does not trust the employee’s initiative. The group tends to be insecure, tense and aggressive.
- Benevolent authoritative style: A benevolent authoritative leader dominates all employees and is the source of all standards. Failure to meet these standards on the part of employees makes him/her feel hurt, angry or surprised and he/she interprets this as personal disloyalty. The group is submissive and shows no initiative without checking with the leader.
- Laissez faire style: Laissez faire leaders often busy themselves in paper work so as to stay away from group members. Such a leader sets no goals, makes no decisions and provides no direction. Frustration, failure and insecurity are typical in the directionless group.
- Democratic style: A democratic leader shares group decisions, devotes time to planning and gives reasons for decisions. The enthusiasm is high among group members and their basic needs tend to be satisfied. Democratic leaders work in a democratic frame-work. They recognize that meetings are necessary for group thinking and action and that the group should have definite goals.
It is clear from the above that autocratic leaders make decisions unilaterally, while democratic leaders invite inputs and participation in decision making from their followers. Another important dimension is the one involving the extent to which leaders dictate how followers should carry out the assigned task versus giving them freedom to work in any way they wish. This is referred to as the directive-permissive dimension. Any leader will tend to show one of the four different patterns of leadership style described above and as head teachers these are the possibilities with their consequences available to you. It is clear that the democratic style will get you the best results. Your teachers and students will feel happy, relaxed, involved, motivated and committed and you will be able to generate an optimum organisational (school) climate.
Source: IGNOU MES-005: HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT