Basic Leadership Styles
The four basic leadership styles of the project manager are described below.
The project manager is primarily focused on getting the tasks done, with little regard to the team member’s feelings.
The project manager tells the team members what, when, where, and how to do things.
Democratic or Participative
The project manager encourages the team members to actively participate in the decision-making process. A lot of authority is delegated to the team members and they play an active role in managing the project.
It’s a French term, literally meaning “let do”. The project manager turns things over to the team members, and only monitors the work at a high level.
Other Leadership Styles
A few other leadership styles defined in the PMBOK® Guide, 6th Ed and other project management references include:
A servant leader demonstrates commitment to serve and put other people first. Agile approaches emphasize servant leadership as a way to empower teams. Servant leadership style works best when the team members have the necessary skills, and need the project leader to manage outside stakeholders. Read Servant Leadership for a better understanding of this topic.
Rewards are based on accomplishments against goals.
Empowering, motivating and inspiring the team members.
Able to inspire; is high-energy, enthusiastic, self-confident; holds strong convictions.
A combination of transactional, transformational, and charismatic leadership styles.
A pace-setting leader leads from the front, sets high standards for performance, and expects the team to exceed with minimal management. The leader always wants to do things better and faster. This style should be sparingly used as it can lower team morale and lead to demotivation.
Situational Leadership Styles
Project managers need to adapt their leadership style according to the situation, maturity and skill levels of the team. There’s no one-size-fits-all or best leadership style. Hersey and Blanchard proposed a situational leadership style model that maps four leadership styles to four maturity and skill levels of the team.
The four situational leadership styles of the project manager according to their model are described below.
The maturity and skill levels of team members are described below.
Mapping of Leadership Styles and Maturity of Team
The following matrix shows the appropriate situational leadership style based on the maturity and skill levels of the team members. Also read Tuckman Ladder for the various stages of team development and the corresponding leadership styles to be adopted.
Participating / Supporting
Medium Maturity / Higher Skills
Delegating / Observing
High Maturity / High Skills
Telling / Directing
Low Maturity / Low Skills
Selling / Coaching
Medium Maturity / Limited Skills
Also refer to the mapping of agile coaching styles to the Shu Ha Ri model.