Leadership styles – do you recognise yours?
Leadership styles – do you recognise yours?
Post written by Paragon Interiors   November 18, 2016

You are sitting at your desk, earphones in, typing away on your keyboard and you feel this ominous shadow behind you. Your two colleagues to the left of you, who were having a very engaging chat about the intricacies of wearing high heeled shoes just a minute ago, immediately switch topics to the report due by close of business that day. Your colleague to the left, fast as a flash minimizes his Facebook screen and maximizes the Excel spread sheet that he was taking a breather from. You feel eyes piercing into the back of your head as your manager’s gaze sweeps over your workstations. You sigh inwardly when he asks you for your daily progress report and listen to his footfalls as he moves back to his desk.

1. Directive leadership style

Yes, the very definition of a directiveleadership style as identified and classified by the Hay McBer Consulting Group cited in a research article by internationally known American Psychologist Daniel Goleman (2000). Hay McBer examined a random sample of 3 871 executives from a global database of 20 000 and identified six predominant leadership styles, one of which is the directive style. Directive leaders manage by coercing employees into performing tasks, they make all the decisions and demand compliance from their subordinates. This type of manager is known as a ‘micro-manager’ -closely controlling employees. Great in times of crises, and when risks outweigh benefits, but stifling for employees who are highly skilled or who need to learn and develop.


2. Democratic leadership style

Your manager’s manager (MoR) however, appears to be the complete opposite – encouraging employees to partake in decision-making, focused on developing trust-based relationships, motivates by reward. In fact, when the sales report comes out once a month and your team has performed well, your MoR heads out to the Mugg-n-Bean down the road and purchases freezos and muffins for the group. One thing that gets you down sometimes is her deep affinity for meetings, and how it can take 10 scheduled discussions to decide on a sales strategy for the next month. A prime example of the democratic leadership style.


3. Authoritative leadership style

This leads you to think about the MD of the company, Tony. What a visionary! You find him firm but fair. He seems to give direction without controlling every movement of his direct reports. He is inspirational, someone you feel motivated to follow. He makes you feel like what you do really matters in the greater scheme of things. You wish he would be a bit more involved in coordinating the marketing department though – appears to be a lack of direction there. Tony is the epitome of an authoritative leadership style.


4. Affiliative leadership style

Thinking about the marketing department… Every time you see Maggy, who heads up the department, she is at the coffee stop chatting to her one of the members on her team. She has such a positive relationship with her staff, which you almost feel envious of, and then you think about the lack of performance of some of her employees in the department. Maybe a firmer approach is required at times? Maggy has an affiliative leadership style.


5. Pacesetting leadership style

Nonhlanhla, the head of operations, is a pacesetter. No-one can keep up with her. She sets very high standards for herself and expects others to follow her lead, and when they don’t, not to worry – she takes over and does their work for them. This seems to work for her though, as her team is generally highly competent and requires little coordination. When a team member doesn’t cut-it they leave on their own accord within a couple of months. Nonhlanhla demonstrates the pacesetting leadership style.


6. Coaching leadership style

Finally, you think about Kevin, head of HR – a developmental manager – focused on coaching employees to help them improve their performance. He has a learning focus and motivates by providing developmental opportunities for employees. He employs the coaching leadership style – developing people for the future. Well suited to the role that he is in.


As you reflect on the different leadership styles that each of the HOD’s have, you realise that in each case, their predominant leadership style seems to suit the people and the situation in that particular department. No style is better than another, but successful managers are able to employ different leadership styles to meet the diverse needs of their reports. Even better is to have a management team that varies in their leadership style, complementing one another’s strengths

Just then, you feel the burning sensation of your manager’s eyes on the back of your neck and you are jolted out of your day dream… time to get back to work!

Paragon Interiors believes in creating flexible workspaces that cater for a variety of leadership styles that one is likely to find in an organisation. Managers who employ a directive leadership style would most likely require more formal meeting spaces to assign tasks and have feedback discussions with individuals and teams. A democratic leader would require more creative thought spaces – collaborative and brainstorming rules to involve employees in decision making. Managers who predominantly display an authoritative leadership style need a large, open multi-functional type space to address groups of people. These leaders are most effective when they are visible to staff. Affiliative leaders require an array of social spaces – coffee stops, informal work lounges, a staff café area – and collaborative spaces. Pacesetters would most likely prefer work areas with spaces that support focus work – telephone booths, focus rooms and team work rooms. Coaching leaders will be the first in support of training facilities and smaller meeting rooms.

Consult Paragon Interiors today to cater for your unique workplace needs and requirements!

Written By:

Natalie Jones

Industrial Psychologist PS0128180


Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, 78(2), pp. 78-90