Leadership Style


A few days ago I was asked by someone what my “leadership style” is. I hadn’t really thought much about a particular “style” because frankly I feel that the style of the leader is determined in part by the follower(s), the situation, and the task at hand. In some circumstances, with certain followers, the “style” might be more autocratic and directive in nature. In other circumstances the “style” might be more democratic and participatory in nature. This is the approach promoted by Hersey and Blanchard’s “situational leadership” theory. It is, in my estimation, the approach used by Jesus. He used the leadership appropriate to the person and situation.

Regardless of the style, however, it is always my goal to enhance follower self-efficacy and thus to empower them to act and perform with more autonomy and to become self-directed learners and leaders. This is only possible when the values and vision of the organization are shared by the follower and when they have demonstrated proficiency in their area of responsibility. A leadership function, then, is to clearly communicate vision and demonstrate and illustrate the organizational values as he or she is developing followers.

There are various leadership theories that sound biblical, such as, transformational and servant-leadership, but it should be noted that neither of these theories was gleaned from scripture, but from secular organizational models. Certainly, they can be employed in ecclesiastical settings and “Christianized” but they are not inherently Christian in origin. Furthermore, less Christian sounding leadership styles can be appropriate in ecclesiastical settings given the situation. For example, Jesus could be very autocratic at times (“no man comes to the Father but by me”), as well as exemplifying servant-leadership as He washed the Apostle’s feet.

Some argue that a leader has “one effective style” and cannot change to match the situations, and as such, the organization must match the right leader with the needs of the organization. To compensate for the lack of leadership range, then, the leader must hire a great supporting staff which will result in synergistic team leadership. Research and opinion is mixed in evaluation of the question of whether a person can effectively employ more than one leadership style. Taken together they suggest that some leaders have only one set style, probably a result of their personality matrix, while others are able to employ various styles with equal competency.

There are a number of leadership style measurement tools available which will help one to determine his or her predominate style, such as the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) and it can be helpful to see where one falls on the spectrum of leadership styles. Having identified one’s predominate style, the leader who would aspire to multiple leadership styles to match situations, should begin a program of self-directed learning in the leadership styles he or she wishes to develop. This is a continual process of leadership improvement. The use of a mentor or coach in this process is very helpful. Call me.