Team Leadership Toolkit

Leadership Styles

Leadership Styles

The Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum is a simple model which shows the relationship between the level of freedom that a manager chooses to give to a team, and the level of authority used by the manager. As the team's freedom is increased, so the manager's authority decreases. This also links with "How Team Develop" - to some extent the four different styles relate to different stages in a teams development. 

tannebaum and schmidt model

Tannenbaum and Schmidt recognised that in an interaction between a leader and his or her team there is a trade-off between the control exercised by the leader and the control exercised by the team. No one ever has 100 per cent control, because even if a leader gives a direct order, the team members retain control over, for example, how enthusiastically they obey the order. They highlight four distinct leadership styles, labelled telling, selling, consulting and participation.


Tell

An autocratic style in which the leader gives specific instructions and monitors staff closely is most useful when the team cannot tackle the task unaided, is unwilling, new or suffered a previous leader who allowed standards to deteriorate. It is the style most people accept in a crisis.

For this style to work well you need to:


Sell

A persuasive style, in which the leader gives clear direction and supervises closely but also explains decisions, encourages suggestions and supports progress. It is most useful when motivation is lacking. It is also the best style where a task is non-negotiable but where the team's motivation is vital to achieve the results required.

For this style to work you need to:


Consult

This is a collaborative style in which the leader discusses the task and listens to the team's ideas, taking them into account as he or she makes the key decisions. It is most useful when the team has sufficient skills and competence to make a contribution but where the leader feels a need to retain control. That need can result from an imbalance between the team's competence and the risk involved in the task.

For this style to work you need to:


Participate/Join

 A facilitating style in which the leader allows the team maximum responsibility, this is most useful when the team is competent and has a positive attitude towards the task. You can let them get on with it and use this style as an important part of their development.

For this style to work you need to: