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CARIBBEAN TRUST- Leadership
Leadership Styles in a Nutshell
The autocratic leader dominates team members, using unilateralism to achieve
a singular objective. This approach to leadership generally results in
passive resistance from team-members and requires continual pressure and
direction from the leader in order to get things done. Generally, an authoritarian
approach is not a good way to get the best performance from a team. There
are, however, some instances where an autocratic style of leadership may
not be inappropriate. Some situations may call for urgent action, and
in these cases an autocratic style of leadership may be best. In addition,
most people are familiar with autocratic leadership and therefore have
less trouble adopting that style. Furthermore, in some situations, subordinates
may actually prefer an autocratic style.
The Laissez-Faire Manager
The Laissez-Faire manager exercises little control over the group, leaving
team members to sort out their roles and tackle their work, without participating
in this process. In general, this approach leaves the team floundering
with little direction or motivation.
Again, there are situations where the Laissez-Faire approach can be effective.
The Laissez-Faire technique is usually only appropriate when leading a
team of highly motivated and skilled people who have produced excellent
work in the past. Once a leader has established that the team is confident,
capable, and motivated,
it is often best to step back and let the team get on with the task, since
interfering can generate resentment and detract from their effectiveness.
By handing over ownership, a leader can empower the group to achieve its
The democratic leader makes decisions by consulting the team, while still
maintaining control of the group.
The democratic leader allows the team to decide how the task will be tackled
and who will perform which task. The democratic leader can be seen in
A good democratic leader encourages participation and delegates wisely,
but never loses sight of the fact that he or she bears the crucial responsibility
of leadership. He or she values group discussion and input from the team
and can be seen as drawing from a pool of team members' strong points
in order to obtain the best performance from the team. He or she motivates
the team members by empowering them to direct themselves and guides them
with a loose rein.
However, the democrat can also be seen as being so unsure that everything
is a matter for group discussion and decision. Clearly, this type of "leader"
is not really leading at all.
First, review the meaning of consensus and the process
of achieving consensus. Then agree on a targeted time
period to reach consensus.
1. Identify Areas of Agreement
2. Clearly State Differences
• State positions and perspectives as neutrally as possible.
• Do not associate positions with people. The differences are between
alternative valid solutions or ideas, not between people.
• Summarize concerns and list them.
3. Fully Explore Differences
• Explore each perspective and clarify.
• Involve everyone in the discussion - avoid a one-on-one debate.
• Look for the "third way.” Make suggestions or modifications,
or create a new solution.
4. Reach Closure
5. Articulate the Decision
• Ask people if they feel they have had the opportunity to fully
express their opinions.
• Obtain a sense of the group. (Possible approaches include "go
rounds" and "straw polls," or the Consensus Indicator tool.
When using the Consensus Indicator, if people respond with two or less,
then repeat steps one through three until you can take another poll.)
• At this point, poll each person, asking, "Do you agree with
and will you support this decision?"
Tips for Consensus Building
• Try to get underlying assumptions regarding the situation out
into the open where they can be discussed.
• Listen and pay attention to what others have to say. This is the
most distinguishing characteristic of
• Encourage others, particularly the quieter ones, to offer their
ideas. Remember, the team needs all the information it can get.
• Take the time needed to reach the point where everyone can agree
to support the group's decision.
• Do not vote. Voting will split the team into "winners and
losers" and encourage "either-or" thinking when there may
be other ways. Voting will foster argument rather than rational discussion
and consequently harm the team process.
• Do not make agreements too quickly or compromise too early in
the process. Easy agreements are often based on erroneous assumptions
that need to be challenged.
• Do not compete internally; either the team wins or no one wins.
Consensus Decision Making: Consensus Indicator
Purpose: To give a team a way of gauging where team members stand on an
When to Use: Whenever making a consensus decision
Whom to Involve: All team members
Time Needed: 1-5 minutes
Ask individuals to react to the proposal by raising the number of fingers
that correspond to their position:
FIVE: I'm all for the idea. I can be a leader.
FOUR: I'm for the idea. I can provide support.
THREE: I'm not sure but I am willing to trust the group's opinion and
will not sabotage its efforts.
TWO: I'm not sure. I need more discussion.
ONE: I can't support it at this time. I need more information.
ZERO (FIST): No. I need an alternative I can support.
The preceding resources are meant as a starting point. Every group will
be different and will change over time.
Sourced from FEMA