Are You Using the Right Leadership Style -- At the Right Time?

The most successful leaders excel at five emotional intelligence competencies: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. These competencies combine in different ways to create distinctive leadership styles. Master the styles, and you can flexibly switch among them as circumstances dictate.

For example, if you're in a turnaround situation or experiencing a natural disaster, adopt the "coercive" style, whereby followers do what you say. But if you need to build harmony or increase morale, use the "affiliative" style, sending the message that "people come first." But be aware of each style's disadvantages. For instance, coercive leadership inhibits organizational flexibility, and affiliative leadership can allow poor performance to go uncorrected.

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  September 9, 2008; 9:20 AM ET  | Category:  Management Tip of the Day
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