Some of the most widely recognized methodologies in leadership theory are style and approach (Northouse, 2016). The reason that style and approach are so important is because they pertain to motivating a subordinate. At this stage, we are no longer just addressing the leader’s abilities, but how effective they are at influencing their subordinates. Style and approach should vary based on the situation and people involved. An effective leader knows how to identify the situation correctly and react appropriately.
According to Northouse (2015), there are three main leadership styles—democratic, authoritative, and laissez-faire. Depending on the situation, one of these styles may be better suited than the other. For example, the democratic style is effective in most any instance as it gives an employee direction without limiting their creativity. An authoritative style is effective in high stress, up-tempo environments where quick action is required such as a newspaper or in the military. The Laissez-Faire style, while often least effective, can be useful in situations where the hard decisions or time crunches are not an issue. Such as in a library, where a librarian does not need a lot of supervision or authority to do their job.
When motivating others it important to maximize subordinates satisfaction. Three major factors related to motivation are the job itself, recognition, and advancement. The type of work one does is very important. If someone feels that the job they are doing, the project they are working on, or the goal they are striving towards is worthy, they will work harder. Recognition is also a great motivational tool. While it is important to give constructive criticism so that subordinates improve, it is equally if not more important that you acknowledge when they do something right. Positive reinforcement is a psychological theory that has been proven time and again (Burke, 1992). Advancement is another form of recognition but equally as important. People want to know that they are learning something and making themselves better. Promoting them is a way of showing that a leader believes in them and trusts them to succeed. This is shown through promotion in workplaces, graduating from school, or being awarded captain status on sports teams. There are lots of ways to promote a subordinate to let them know they are doing a great job.
When applying these two philosophies together a leader can provide effective support for the subordinate. These allow the leader to adapt to the situation and the people. It also encourages positive behavior while minimizing negative or ineffective behavior.
Burke, J.C. (1992). Decreasing classroom behavior problems: Practical guidelines for teachers. San Diego: Singular Publishing Group, Inc
Northouse, P. (2015). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc.
Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.