With the upcoming United States Presidential Election, now is an ideal time to contemplate different leadership styles. Whether you are a fervent Trump supporter or passionately oppose him, we all can agree he has an interesting leadership style. Like most things in life, all leadership styles have their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, let us discuss 3 successful leadership styles used throughout history with their advantages and disadvantages.
Lets start with quiet leadership. Quiet leaders believe that an action should (or should not) be taken and act accordingly (Wegener, 2013). Leaders such as Rosa Parks and Abraham Lincoln are well recognized as quiet leaders. In the case of Rosa Parks, she felt she should not give up her seat on the bus. Abraham Lincoln believed slaves should be emancipated. In both of these cases, neither historical leader was known for his or her rousing speeches (Villalobos, 2013). However, they both acquired followers through their inspirational actions (Wegener, 2013). These quiet leaders “lead by example” and did not give orders (Villalobos, 2013). Instead, they focused on what needed to be accomplished (Villalobos, 2013). Thus, Rosa Parks and Abraham Lincoln earn their position as quiet U.S. leaders. Rosa Parks appropriately summarizes her leadership style with her quote “each person must live their life as a model for others” (Wood, 2018).
There are several disadvantages of quiet leaders. Quiet leaders tend to be thoughtful and deliberate (Bowen, 2015). Although these are positive characteristics, some can mistakenly take their slow and strategic reactions as a weakness. Additionally, because quiet leaders tend to embrace working solo, some can incorrectly assume quiet leaders do not have people skills
(Bowen, 2015). Moreover, quiet leaders are less apt to have conflicts with others which can be perceived as they avoid conflict. Thus, one may inaccurately assume quiet leaders will be easy to manipulate to get their way. Consequently, quiet leaders can be underestimated although they tend to be quite prepared. These characteristics should be acknowledged so quiet leaders can minimize their impact.
The second type of leadership I want to discuss is charismatic leadership. Charismatic leaders tend to be charming thus they have many followers. Charismatic leaders tend to value the opinion of others and solicit advice from others (Wegener, 2013). Charismatic leaders tend to motivate others and can get others invested in a cause. Some historical figures that are known to be charismatic leaders are Bill Clinton and Winston Churchill. Bill Clinton is a charismatic leader because of his charisma, his tendency to listen and value the opinions of his followers, and his ability to communicate that he understands his supporters (Villalobos, 2013). Winston Churchill was known for his good sense of humor and his ability to be honest with his supporters, which also gained him respect (Wegener, 2013). All of these traits add to Churchill’s likability, which helps earn him the reputation of a charismatic leader. One of Churchill’s famous alleged quotes that appropriately summarizes his leadership style is it is good if you have enemies because “that means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life” (International Churchill Society, 2019).
Although there are many advantages to being a charismatic leader, disadvantages also exist. A charismatic leader can become overconfident with his or her ability to inspire others (American Psychological Association, 2005). Consequently, egos can become inflated and
threats can go unidentified (American Psychological Association, 2005). Additionally, when egos become excessive, one can find it challenging to share information with others. “A charismatic leader often retains the majority of the control in the office because he believes in himself so much” (American Psychological Association, 2005). Furthermore, when one gets
used to being in control, it can be difficult to give this position up. This can be problematic as leaders mature. If information is not being shared with others, a knowledge gap can develop which presents challenges with succession planning (American Psychological Association, 2005). Ironically, charismatic leadership can ultimately stifle diversity of thought and problem solving for an organization although charismatic leaders are known for their strong people skills. Thus, charismatic leaders should try to manage these disadvantages so their effectiveness is not impeded.
The third type of leadership that I want to explore is transformational leadership. Transformational leaders effectively communicate their inspiring visions to others. Interestingly transformational leaders do not ask to be in leadership positions, but their passion is contagious and ultimately people support them because of their mission (Wegener, 2013). Transformational leaders ultimately recruit followers because they can empower supporters (Wegener, 2013). The followers identify with the passion in the leader’s message and want to help the leader. Examples of transformational leaders include Martin Luther King Jr. and Walt Disney. Walt Disney used his morals and standards to create the “happiest place on earth” (Villalobos, 2013). Martin Luther King Jr, who is known for his passionate speeches, focused on his vision and never asked to be a leader (Wegener, 2013). “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he
stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” is an example of Martin Luther King Jr.’s attitude toward leadership (Biography, 2019).
There are numerous disadvantages to manage with the transformative leadership style. First, transformative leaders tend to focus on the larger picture and do not spend much time or energy developing operational plans (Thompson, 2019). However, details are important to develop operational strategies that are needed for success. Unfortunately, transformative leaders generally do not like to get tangled up with the day-to-day processes (Thompson, 2019) which can leave a blind spot for a leader. Secondly, transformative leaders tend to churn and burn colleagues (Thompson, 2019). Because transformative leaders strongly believe in authenticity, they believe supporters should sleep, eat, and breathe the mission of the organization (Thompson, 2019). This can lead to some supporters feeling their lives are out of equilibrium. Furthermore, transformative leaders can easily lose support (Thompson, 2019). After all,
transformative leaders gained supporters because of their mission. Therefore, if their mission becomes misaligned from supporters, logic dictates that these followers will no longer support the transformative leader. Thus, there are many considerations transformative leaders need to
keep in mind to ensure success.
To conclude, just as there are numerous personalities, there are just as many leadership styles. Therefore, all of us are capable of being strong leaders. However, the question becomes which leadership style is going to be compatible with what we are trying to achieve and what can we do to manage the disadvantages to best serve our mission. Note that I am not saying that we should adopt which leadership style comes to us naturally. Sometimes it is in our best interest, and our organization’s best interest, to take ourselves outside our comfort zone. However, with the various leadership options available, certainly with a little time and research, new leadership styles can be adopted.
American Psychological Association: Charisma doesn’t guarantee leadership success (2005). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/jan05/charisma
Biography: 17 Inspiring quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.biography.com/news/martin-luther-king-famous-quotes
Bowen, C. (2015). Rosa Parks: The personification of quiet leadership. Retrieved fromhttps://prezi.com/hsujblbguquc/rosa-parks-the-personification-of-quiet-leadership
International Churchill Society (2019). Retrieved from https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/quotes/?gclid=CjwKCAjwwvfrBRBIEiwA2nFiPRhrnGVHYEDK0Xg0O69bs4hGHfg1NlwB7_fJb0n1rkClF-rcpQladxoCImMQAvD_BwE
Thompson, J. (2019). Advantages and Disadvantages of Transformational Leadership. Retrieved from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-disadvantages-transformational-leadership-20979.html
Wegener, J. (2013). Wisconsin School of Business: Leadership styles of famous leaders. Retrieved from https://bus.wisc.edu/current-student-resources/bba/news-events-deadlines/blog/2013/11/21/leadership-styles-of-famous-leaders
Wood, J. (2018). 15 Inspiring quotes from Rosa Parks. Retrieved from https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/91801/15-inspiring-quotes-rosa-parks