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In light of your opinion on leadership style, describe a time you were led by a leader in a way that didn't suit the situation. What could he or she have done better?

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Good leaders recognize that effective leadership is dependent on the complexities of circumstances. Therefore, some leadership styles may not be appropriate for every situation. Listed below are some types of leadership styles along with a description of when they might not be most useful.

  • Democratic leadership: It is typically effective to allow people to have a voice in the decisions being made. This allows for more "buy-in" to the final outcome. However, if you have two passionate and polar opposite factions regarding a decision, democratic leadership isn't going to be very effective. Instead, this typically leads into a heated argument where nothing is decided.
  • Autocratic leadership: This type of leader makes all decisions without anyone's input. This is rarely effective because it creates a distance between the leader and those the decisions affect. If your school board suddenly decided to move the start time of high school courses several hours earlier without taking input from parents, bus drivers, community members, or students, this decision would likely not go over well.
  • Transactional leadership: These leaders provide rewards (and punishments) based on given criteria. If you have ever been in a class where a teacher takes away everyone's recess because one student was talking, you have witnessed the negative impact of transactional leadership. (And typically, the punishment is overall ineffective when administered in this fashion.)
  • Transformational leadership: This type of leader wants to constantly improve things. Thus, there are new and challenging goals and deadlines to improve performance. This becomes problematic when things change too quickly and people begin to feel that they can't possibly live up to the leader's expectations. Imagine working at a fast-food restaurant for a new manager who decided that each car at the drive-through window should be served within ninety seconds. Next week, the time is sixty seconds. The following week, it's forty-five seconds. If things move too quickly and without ample support, people become discouraged.
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership: This type of leader looks at the big picture and allows the details to work themselves out. Initially, this may seem like a great idea for people who don't enjoy being micromanaged. However, sometimes it evolves into a lack of control and structure, and there isn't a clear direction for how to deal with problems.

I hope this helps as you consider the various types of leadership styles you may have witnessed in your life. Good luck!

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