The 5 Approaches to Leadership

All of these five leadership styles are useful and good at the appropriate time.  The trick is to use the right style at the right time.  If there is an emergency, then telling is the way to go.  If you’re looking to get people excited about a project, then selling might work out nicely.  When the outcome doesn’t matter much or the group seems to have already made a fine suggestions, then you might just decide to join along.  Again, it is important to know that there are different leadership styles, and to decide which one will be best in a given situation.


  • Identifies a problem, considers alternative solutions, chooses one, and then tells the group what they are to do.
  • Members’ views may be considered, but they do not participate directly in the decision-making.


  • Makes the decision after consideration of organizational goals and group members interests.  Although the idea is “sold,” it can be decided even if not “bought.”
  • Explains to the group how the problem or task can be resolved or accomplished.
  • Uses persuasion to carry out the decision.


  • Identifies a problem and proposes a tentative solution.
  • Asks for the reactions of those who will implement it.
  • Leader makes the final decision after considering the reactions.


  • Presents a problem and relevant background information.
  • Invites the group to increase the number of alternative actions to be considered. 
  • Leader selects the solution she/he regards as most promising from among those emerging during group discussions.


  • Participates in the discussion as a member and agrees in advance to carry out whatever decision the group makes.
  • May make a decision to make no decision.