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What is your leadership style?

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

Leadership styles were first defined in 1939 by a group of researchers led by psychologist Kurt Lewin. His team studied youth leaders in activity groups. They grouped behaviours together and concluded there were three different and predominant leadership styles.

  • The autocratic style is one in which a single person takes control and makes decisions, directing others in his or her chosen course of action. Lewin’s team found that this was the most unsatisfactory leadership style with the youth groups.

  • In a democratic leadership style, one person takes control but is open to group input, often allowing the group to make decisions and collectively assign tasks. This leader guides rather than directs. This was the most popular leadership style in the youth groups and garnered the greatest positive response.

  • With the laissez-faire approach, the person in charge stepped back and did nothing. He or she provided no direction or guidance. The group was disorganized and unproductive.

Imagine you are starting a project you are really passionate about. You have gathered a group of people to help you. Respond to each question below according to the way you would be most likely to act as the leader of the group. For each questions answer whether you would be likely to behave in the described way:

Always (A); Frequently (F); Occasionally (O); Seldom (S); or Never (N)

1. I would most likely act as the spokesperson of the group

2. I would encourage members to work long hours on this project

3. I would allow members complete freedom in their work

4. I would make uniform procedures for people to use

5. I would permit the members to use their own judgment in solving problems

6. I would stress being ahead of competing groups

7. I would speak as representative of the group

8. I would needle members for greater effort

9. I would try out my own ideas in the group

10. I would let members do their work the way they think best

11. I would work hard to get a better position or recognition of people I admire or work for

12. I would be able to tolerate postponement and uncertainty

13. I would speak for the group when visitors were present

14. I would keep the work moving at a rapid pace

15. I would let the members have a free reign

16. I would settle conflicts when they occur in the group

17. I would get swamped by details

18. I would represent the group at outside meetings

19. I would be reluctant to allow the members any freedom of action

20. I would decide what shall be done and how it shall be done

21. I would push for increased production

22. I would let some members have authority that I could keep

23. Things would usually turn out as I predict

24. I would allow the group a high degree of initiative

25. I would assign group members to particular tasks

26. I would be willing to make changes

27. I would ask the members to work harder

28. I would trust the group members to exercise good judgment

29. I would schedule the work to be done

30. I would refuse to explain my actions

31. I would persuade others that my ideas are to their advantage

32. I would permit the group to set its own pace

33. I would urge the group to beat its previous record

34. I would act without consulting the group

35. I would ask the group members to follow standard rules and regulations

Count your scores:

a) Circle questions number 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 30, 34, and 35.

b) For those questions only write a “1” in front of the questions to which you responded S (seldom) or N (never)

c) For the remaining questions, write a “1” in front of the questions to which you responded A (always) or F (frequently)

d) Circle the “1’s” you have put for questions: 3, 5, 8, 10, 15, 18, 19, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, and 35.

e) Count the circled “1’s.” This is your score for concern-for-people.

f) Count the not circled “1’s.” This is your score for concern for-task.

g) Take a look at the diagram that follows. Find your score for concern for-task dimension on the left-hand arrow.

Next, move to the right-hand arrow and find your score on the concern-for-people dimension. Draw a straight line that intersects the two scores. The point at which that line crosses the democratic leadership arrow indicates your score on that dimension.

Test source: Leadership handbook, by Helena Kovač, Martina Širol, Marinela Šumanjski, Sarajevo 2017

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