Much has been written on the styles of leadership and how they are applied in given situations. Five styles of leadership generally are recognized.
1. Telling(or ordering). The leader alone identifies the problem, makes the decisions, and directs the activities. The style appears autocratic and may or may not invdlve the opinions of the group members.
2. Persuading (or selling). In this style of leadership, the decision still is made by the leader. Having made the decision, the leader must sell it to the group to get cooperation.
3. Consulting. Group members participate and provide input. The leader may suggest a tentative decision or plan and get the group's reaction. Having consulted the group, the leader still makes the final decision, usually based on group consensus. If consensus can not be reached, the group is encouraged to note and follow the desires of the majority.
4. Delegating. The leader identifies the problem, sets certain guidelines, boundaries, or rules, and then turns the problem over to the group or one of its members. The leader accepts the decision of the group if it falls within the boundaries and guidelines established. While authority may be delegated, the responsibility must remain with the leader.
5. Joining. The leader steps down as leader and joins the group. The leader agrees in advance to abide by the group's decisions. It is important to remember that joining the group is still leadership. Before deciding to use thisstyle, the leader must carefully consider the resources of the group and, if necessary, change to a more direct leadership style.
No single leadership style is "best." Each depends on the situation, experience of the group members, and tasks to be done. As leadership styles move from telling to joining, the leader's authority appears to diminishand the group's participation increases. Selecting the appropriate style of leadership is an act of leadership based on the nature of the situation and the ability and experience of the group members. Leadership is a dynamic process, varying from situation to situation with changes in leaders, followers, goals, and circumstances.