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What Is The Most Effective Leadership Style When There Are Differences In Demographics Between The Leader And The People They Are Leading?

Leadership styles as a painter chooses his brush, based on exactly what is needed to get the work done.

What Is The Most Effective Leadership Style When There Are Differences In Demographics Between The Leader And The People They Are Leading?

An effective leadership style is the one through which a leader can not only get his plans implemented but also at the same time motivate his workforce to give their best for the company. Some leaders like to take all the major decisions without relying on the team, whereas some like to encourage participation in the decision making. Needless to say, there can be no ‘one-rule-applies-to-all’ when it comes to leadership styles. With the changing times, there is a need for newer ways of organizing the workforce. Especially with the global ageing population and the entry of the young generation in the corporate sector the corporate world is transforming at a fast pace.

In order to comprehend the concept of leadership in such changing times, we must first become aware of the various types of leadership that we see globally today.

Types of Leadership

There are as many as 12 different types of leadership styles that leaders of today use to lead other people, help fortify operational policies, and achieve the overall goals of the organization. We shall look at some of the top styles some of which are widely adopted by leaders globally:

  • Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership: As the name suggests, this type of leadership style involves exercising complete power over the subordinates. Such leaders don’t take any inputs from others into account. Instead, they make their decisions, communicate them to the subordinates and expect their quick implementation. In the long run, such leaders can face a lot of resistance from others who don’t like to be treated this way. Statistically, this type of leadership cannot survive in most situations for a long time.
  • Participative or Democratic Leadership: In this leadership style, subordinates are also encouraged to participate in the decision-making process unlike the autocratic style of leadership. However, the democratic leader gets to have the final word and delegate the responsibilities based on the decisions taken. This leadership style is one of the most preferred and widely used styles which promotes competence and creativity.
  • Transformational Leadership: Transformational leaders bring about positive changes in the organization, groups, oneself, and the others. They are top-level motivators who constantly keep their teams satisfied, energized and wanting to learn more and achieve higher performance. They are essentially the role models and mentors in the eyes of their subordinates who set perfect examples that the others can follow and imbibe.
  • Transactional Leadership: This leadership is based on the principle of ‘quid pro quo’. Achievements are linked with rewards i.e. subordinates get immediate rewards for their good work and for implementing the plans of the leader. Transactional leaders have clear expectations from their followers and provide guidance to them to meet the objectives set for the followers.
  • Cross-Cultural Leadership: This form of leadership is required in most of the international corporate setups that have employees and clients coming from various cultural backgrounds. Such leaders should be effectively able to work with local as well as foreign teams keeping in mind the diverse cultures and different work environments. For example, an American leader may want to take big decisions more quickly for a swift implementation whereas the Japanese subordinates may want to arrive at a consensus before any action gets taken. Thus the inherent qualities of every culture need to be balanced.

Impact of Change in Demographics on Leadership

Today the organizations have an overlapping of three to four generations who work together closely. This not only impacts the functioning of the organization but also presents the leaders with many challenges to consider before forming any strategy that can effectively lead people.

  • Gender: Difference in leadership styles between men and women have been the subject of many studies. It was observed in one study that women used a more participative leadership approach while men used a more controlling approach. Women used more transformational styles whereas men used more transactional styles.
  • Age: Most of the top leaders today are well above their 50s. They have years of experience in their field and their leadership style involves traits like conservation, consideration, co-operation, and calm. The young generation leaders get associated with energy and vigour, however, sometimes they tend to focus on short-term goals and also get very self-focused. They each have different styles.
  • Tenure and Qualifications: The longer the tenure of an individual in an organization as well as in their leadership position, the more they resent bringing newer changes and innovation, as per a study. Hence, leaders who are ready to change with time, and who are highly qualified are able to increase their leadership behaviours for the overall betterment of their organization.

Thus great leaders choose their leadership styles as a painter chooses his brush, based on exactly what is needed to get the work done.