the best leadership philosophy for each situation


Leadership philosophy is a popular subject nowadays. Teachers, managers, parents and people from all parts of life take an interest in leadership philosophy. That’s why I want to talk a bit about this school of philosophy. There are many types of leadership. Here I will discuss a few of the most important ones along with their best suited use. But a truly effective leader develops their own philosophy of leadership. This can be a sentence or multiple paragraphs called a leadership philosophy statement. It looks like a coaching philosophy statement. Everything that applies for that kind of philosophy also applies for a leadership philosophy statement. If you read these leadership philosophy examples you see that they can also be applied to coaching. In fact coaching philosophy is a type of leadership philosophy.

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – President John Quincy Adams

leadership philosophyTop Down Leadership

A top down leadership, also called an autocratic leadership, emphasizes the role of the leader. The leader makes the decisions which the followers complete. This kind of leadership suits situations which require quick action, when there is a clear end point or if the leader is the undisputed most knowledgeable person. This is a perfect example of an army leadership philosophy. The officers make the decisions which the soldiers must follow. In this kind of philosophy the leaders are held accountable for every success and failure. An autocratic leadership is usually very effective. but if the leader is incompetent or corrupt, they destroy the system.

Participative Leadership

If you want to develop an educational leadership philosophy a top down leadership is at a disadvantage. For example, education of small children needs to enable them develop themselves. A child is not like a soldier that is molded in a certain shape, it needs to discover itself first. That is why a participative kind of leadership is most useful. This kind of philosophy emphasizes participation from all its members and encourages decision-making by the entire group through discussion or voting. This allows members to take responsibility for the bigger picture. It raise creativity and motivation . But its disadvantage is the danger of stagnation and loss of focus. A participative leader thus needs to offer an environment which allows for participation but also a clear vision.

Delegative Leadership

The delegative leader does little to no decision-making. It’s members usually work independently and decide what to do on their own. It is best used in a team of experts that need little to no guidance to do their jobs. The delegative leader is there too connect the different members together so they know what the state of the whole project is and what their place is. They also keep the project on track and will interfere when certain goals are not met or when a member deviates too much from the goal. This kind of leadership might seem easy but it requires a well-developed analytic skill to keep many experts who work independently on the same line.

Think about what kind of environment you are teaching to decide your kind of leadership before writing your own leadership philosophy. Are you leading a team with a definite goal without much time for discussion? Then choose an autocratic leadership philosophy. If the goal is the personal development of your followers, then a participative leadership is most effective. Finally if you lead a  highly skilled and independent team it is best to take to the background and delegate tasks and keep everything on track.

But I want to end with saying that the most important aspect of leading is the leader. A good leader respects their followers and create enjoyment for the team. This doesn’t mean that a good leader makes sure everyone is having fun all the time. But even when going through troubled times a good leader motivates their followers and makes them beliefs in their current projects. Enjoyment can come from hard things too. I want to end with a quote of my favorite philosopher about philosophy. It shows that just like a good coach a good leader needs to live their philosophy. It does one no good to develop a long leadership philosophy and not live up to it in their daily lives.

”The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear” – Socrates

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