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Leadership styles: which dog are you?

Kurt Lewin, the founder of social psychology, identified three key leadership styles. Some people slip automoatically into one of these categories, others change their behaviour to fit a situation or individual.

Christine Knott, MD of training consultancy Beyond the Box, has put together three definitions for Real Business. Do you recognise your style amongst them” Could you be encouraged to take yourself out of your comfort zone and step into an alternative role

1.) Kurt Lewin’s Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic)

Bossy dog – Rotweiller.

Motto: ‘Don’t do as I do, do as I say’

I know what needs to be done and how I want it done and there is no room for compromise, so I dictate the state of play. I wouldn’t waste time asking my staff for input or ideas, that’s not why they are employed.

I never get to close to my staff – that would never do, it could lead to difficult situations. Keep your distance and let them know who’s boss.

That crux of the matter is: if we are faced with an urgent situation someone has to take control and make a decision.

2.) Kurt Lewin’s Participative Leadership (Democratic)

Sensible, logical dog – Lassie.

Motto: ‘Let’s work through this together and then I’ll make a decision.’

I like to encourage the team to contribute ideas and solutions because it helps their development and moves them towards a successful future. Without doubt my team is more motivated and creative as a result of their involvement.

After discussions I make decisions based on the information available to me. At the end of the day the buck stops with me.

No one has the monopoly on ideas. When we have the luxury of time on our side it’s a perfect opportunity to see what my staff are made of. They enjoy it.

3.) Kurt Lewin’s Delegative (Laissez-Faire)

A laid back dog –  Snoopy.

Motto: ‘You know what you have to do, so get on with it’

I see no point getting involved with what everyone is doing. They know what is expected of them and can do the job quite easily without my input.

They are pretty ungrateful though. Despite the fact that I let them make their own decisions, they seem to lack motivation.

At the end of the day these guys know their jobs better than I do. Allowing them to make their own decisions is a form of development. Sometimes their mistakes can be costly, but when the project can withstand the mistakes, it’s a great learning curve.  For more information on Beyond The Box, or to contact Christine Knott go to

Picture source 


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