Blog 3: Most effective Leadership, Management Styles & Approaches

Which personal style should managers adopt to ensure success? What is the most effective approach to managing the work of subordinates? These questions have been extensively researched and debated over the last century, and while the general consensus has moved away from ‘command and control’ to management and leadership towards more consultative and participative approaches, there is no single ideal, as the best approach may vary according to circumstances and individual characteristics” (CMI 2013).

Leadership and management are like the two sides of a same coin, different yet linked to each other. Algahtani (2014:76) mentioned that “a manager does things right, while a leader does the right things”. Managers are the people who were assigned the management tasks, and they generally achieve the desired goals “through the key functions of planning and budgeting, organizing and staffing, problem solving and controlling … while leaders set a direction, align people, motivate, and inspire them.” (Kotter 2001). Fundamentally, leaders produce useful changes while managers make sure that the organisation reaches their goals in the most efficient way (Kotterman 2006, Bass 2008). The following table will show the comparison of Leadership and Management.

leadervsmanager.pngDifferences Between Leadership & Management (Surbhi 2015)

Kotter (1990) also stated that “Good management brought a degree of order and consistency to key dimensions like quality and profitability of products… [while] leadership does not produce consistency and order, it produces movement.” Despite being different, any organisation lacking one of these two will not have satisfactory results in the long run. In truth, managers who cannot lead are stiff and bureaucratic. On the other hand, leaders who lead without managing are very messianic and cult-like, with emphasize on change just for the sake of changing, even if it is moving toward the wrong direction (Kotter 1990).


Fayol’s functions of management (

The problem is great leaders are not necessarily great managers, and vice versa. Most of the time managers hold an organisational position that need them to lead to a certain extent, but even with poor leadership qualities, most employees would follow order from their managers simply because they are conditioned to do so. As can be seen from Henri Fayol’s 5 functions of management chart below: management planning, organizing, commanding, leading and controlling; at least basic element of leading is needed in order for operational management to run smoothly. There are a few management theories that managers can adopt in order to turn themselves into better leaders. This post is going to discuss two of the most used leadership models in situational/contingency category, the firsts one being Kurt Lewin’s Leadership style framework (1939) and the second one is the Situational Leadership Model by Blanchard & Hersey (1979).

Lewin’s Leadership Style Frameworks


Lewin’s leadership style frameworks (greatleadersgrow)

Leadership Style Description
Autocratic leadership style The autocratic leader is a leader who tends to make decisions alone and acquires power from position, rewards and coercion (Daft 2007).

Leaders determine the goals, deadlines, and methods without any consultation with others.

Lewin’s experiments found that this leadership style caused the most level of discontent within the organisation.

However, it is very suitable when high-risk, short-time scale decisions are to be made since it is highly task oriented and very effective when meeting deadlines or emergencies (Marquis & Houston 2009).

North Korean Kim-Jong Un is a perfect example of this leadership style.

Laissez – faire leadership style The leaders have a minimal participation in decision-making, but are still considered responsible for the outcomes.

They hand over the responsibility for results straight away to the team. This can work only when the team members are adequately motivated and capable of making their own decisions.

This approach to leadership has a very high risk of turnover, seeing that it is easy for some people to lose their vision and motivation when not being actively led.

 A great example of this leadership style can be found in Mahatma Gandhi, he simple led by example and let people choose for themselves whether to follow him or not.

Democratic leadership style The leaders involve other people in their decision-making process, even though they still have the final say over the matters.

Leaders would also have no problem taking criticism and suggestions. This style is generally used in a competitive, non-emergency situation because it generally leads to more out-of-the-box problem solving, creativity, and innovation.

Most of the time the team members being led with this leadership style feel valued with a strong sense of belonging and ownership, giving them both independence and self-confidence.

However, the managers possess very little control over their subordinates when there are a wide range of opposing opinions may lead to slower decision-making process (Whitehead et al 2009).

Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group, is a great example of democratic leader. Tony is a big advocacy of employee empowerment and creativity in the workplace.

Leadership Styles Descriptions and Examples Table (self-made)

Lewin’s experiments concluded with Democratic Leadership Style being the best option out of the three, where excessive Autocratic Style can lead to revolution and Laissez-faire can lead to overall demotivation and laziness, Democratic styles presents a more balanced option for leaders to follow (Lewin, Llipit, & White 1939).

Hersey’s Situational Leadership Model

Situational leadership theory states that effective leadership means that leaders take the whole situation into account and then craft an appropriate response to it (Grint 2011). Factors being analyse would include the maturity level of the followers (measured by their motivation and competency levels), their relationship behaviour with the leaders, the leaders’ own assessment and perception of their followers, and the type of situation the organisation is currently facing (Lerman 2010). The level of job maturity of the followers’ plays the biggest role in determining the correct leadership style than can be applies in certain situation (Hersey & Blanchard 2014).

Based on these factors, the leaders should be able to decide whether to emphasis more on the task at hand or on the relationship between them and the followers. Due to this leadership style being very situation-specific, it varies depending on the person and situation. Followers with low maturity level will work best with high task structure and low consideration from the leader, and vice versa. The following table and graph show the relationship between the maturity levels and leadership styles.


Situational Leadership Style Model (

The diagram shows the development growth of a team’s maturity level from immaturity (R1) to maturity (R4) during which management and leadership style evolved accordingly from simple telling them what task to do (S1), through the more involved stages of explaining how to do it (S2) and simple participating (S3), to the final stage of delegating work (S4), at which time ideally the team can mostly self-manage itself (Hersey & Blanchard 1979).

The most valuable trait a situational leader must have is the abilities for critical thinking and to adjust his leadership style according to what is currently happening and changing. General George Patton is known for his leadership of the U.S. Third Army in June 1944, where they went in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy. He is well known for his situational approach to leadership, his own philosophy to win wars is to focus on analyzing the situation first before planning any course of action. His abilities to lead from the front and change his plan to fit unexpected situation led them to win the war ( 2018).


Geberal George Patton (

This presence of different theories on leadership show two things; that leadership is an ever-changing practice, and that there is no one right way to lead. As Yukl (2008) stated, “The effective leader engages in a mix of task and relation behaviors”. Supported by Rolfe (2011) in where it is stated, “Among the different styles of managerial leadership, there is no one style that is more advantageous that the other”. Therefore, I agree with the statement above by CMI (2013). In my personal opinion, I would prefer to be led by someone with situational leadership style. Different levels of maturity within team members would make it stressful to work under one fixed leadership style without any flexibility to change under different situation.


838 words.



Algahtani, D. (2014) ‘Are Leadership and Management Different?’ Journal of Management Policies and Practices, 2(3).

Bass B.M (2008) The Bass Hand book of leadership: theory, research and managerial applications. 4th edition. Free press New York.

Daft. R.L (2007) The leadership experience. 4th edition. Thomson

Grint, K. (2011) ‘A history of leadership.’ The SAGE handbook of leadership (pp. 3-14). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hersey, P. and Blanchard, K. (2014) ‘Situational Leadership’ [online] available from <;> [26 February 2018]

Hersey, P., & Blanchard, K. H. (1979) ‘Life cycle theory of leadership.’ Training & Development Journal [online] available from < u/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=9067469&site=ehost-live&scope=site> [25 February 2018]

Kotter, J. P. (2001) ‘What leaders really do?’, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 79 Issue 11, p.85- 96

Kotter, J.P. (1990) A Force For Change: How Leadership Differs from Management [online] available from <> [28 February 2018]

Kotterman, J. (2006) ‘Leadership vs Management: What’s the difference?’ Journal of     Quality and Participation, Vol. 29, Issue 2, PP 13-17

Lewin, K., LIippit, R. and White, R.K. (1939) ‘Patterns of aggressive behavior in experimentally created social climates.’ Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 271-301

Marquis, B.L and Houston. C.J. (2009). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing. Theory and application. 6th edition. Wolters Kluwer, Health/Lippincott Williams, Philadelphia PA.

Mullins, L. (2013) Management And Organisational Behaviour. Harlow, England: Prentice Hall/Financial Times

Rolfe, P. (2011) ‘Transformational leadership theory: what every leader needs to know.’ Nurse Leader, 9(2), 54-57.

Surbhi, S. (2015) Difference Between Leadership and Management [online]. Available from:<>[2 March 2018]

Whitehead, D. K. and Weiss, S. A. and Tappe,n R. M. (2009). Essentials of nursing leadership and management. 5th edition. F. A Davis company, Philadelphia PA.

Yukl, G. (1989) ‘Managerial Leadership: a review of theory and research’. Journal of Management, Vol. 15 Issue 2, p. 251-290

Yukl, G. (2008) ‘How leaders influence organizational effectiveness’. The Leadership Quarterly, 19(6), 708-722.

12 thoughts on “Blog 3: Most effective Leadership, Management Styles & Approaches

  1. culcalvintey says:

    Impressive and excellence writing.
    I agree that situational leadership approach provides flexibility to change under different situation. However, too much of flexibility could lead to low development for the team as there is no pressure for growth. If allowed, what other leadership styles would you recommend to work with situational leadership approach to overcome the above issue? and why.


    • culcliafebrinal says:

      Hi Alvin, thanks for reading. Situational leadership approach also takes the team’s maturity level into consideration, looking at how motivated, competent, and capable they are before choosing any of the approach. The more mature they are, the more flexible will the leadership approach be. However, the flexibility here does not mean that leaders will simply let their subordinates go on their own, because the leaders will always be the ones responsible for the outcomes.


    • culcliafebrinal says:

      Thanks Kathy. Yes they can. Contingency / situational leadership theories stressed out the importance of adapting your leadership style to different circumstances. The style that works in one organisation might not be working for another in different industry with different culture.


  2. Mohammad Reza says:

    You’ve covered the topic well.
    Is there any way to determine the level of flexibility. It’s known that if there is flexibility, there will be a possibility of abusing the power, and on the same time leader must demonstrate the ability to formed in decision making and so on. Dose flexibility effect it?


    • culcliafebrinal says:

      Thanks Mohammad. Flexibility is an important trait to have as a leader, giving space to creativity and inventiveness. The flexibility afforded by the organisation gives the leader the latitude to use different tools to motivate each individual employee in the way that is most effective, while the employees are happy that their personal needs are being met. True, this might result in inconsistency and disparities, which is why most organisations (therefore, leaders) have guidelines which are essentially limitations of the flexibility level.


    • culcliafebrinal says:

      Thanks Anaam. I will need to choose my leadership style by first applying the situational leadership theories, I would need to assess the employees and the organisation cultures first. But in an ideal world, I would like to lead and be led with a democratic leadership style.


  3. culckimwongck says:

    Well written, Febby.
    I am impressed with your thoughts and sharing with situational leadership styles. However, some articles critic that situational leadership styles will cause inconsistency and confusion among the employees as they may not be able to “catch” their manager/leader responses. What do you think?


    • culcliafebrinal says:

      Hi Kim, thanks! I am a firm believer that different situation needs a different approach, but that doesn’t excuse inconsistency and unpredictability. No matter what the leadership style, vision and long-term objectives need to stay consistent. In the situation when there is a change needed, leaders need to communicate it clearly to their team before making the actual move towards the change. Proactive communication makes the team more prepared for the change and give them a venue to raise their questions and concerns.


  4. culcmaf says:

    A nice blog! And I agree about the concept of situational leadership. However, I would like to ask as you mentioned that often leaders are not good managers and vice versa. So don’t you think that in today’s time to be effective one needs to be a mix of both (a good leader and good manager)?


    • culcliafebrinal says:

      Thanks Ahsan! I believe that you need to have the capabilities to be both, and also being able to switch between the two depending on the situation. While its true that the two qualities are not always present within one same individual, a good leader and a good manager can always work together and compliment each other’s strengths.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s