Becoming an effective leader

Outcome 1 

1.1 - Evaluate own ability to use a range of leadership styles, in different situations and with different types of people, to fulfil the leadership role

Leadership theory and approaches

Tannenbaum & Schmidt

The seven leadership styles, sometimes described as delegated levels of freedom, proposed by Tannenbaum and Schmidt are:


  • The Leader takes the decision and announces it. The leader considers the options, decides what course of action the team will follow and informs the team of the decision. In ‘telling’ the team what action is to be taken, the leader chooses not to involve the team in the decision-making process. This may be perceived by the team as a task-based decision, taking no account of their views.


  • The Leader takes the decision and 'sells' it to the team. Once again, the leader makes the decision. However, the leader will also explain to the team the rationale for, and the positive benefits of, the decision. The team is likely to perceive the leader more positively because the importance of the team has been recognised by the leader.


  • The leader presents the decision, background information and invites questions. In this scenario, the leader presents the decision and invites questions from the team, encouraging discussion and enabling the team to consider the rationale behind the decision. This more consultative approach enables the team to more fully appreciate all the issues and the implications of all the options. This approach is likely to be perceived by the team as more motivating.


  • The leader proposes a decision and invites discussion about it. More consultative than the previous approach, the leader proposes a decision to the team for discussion. Armed with the views of the team, the leader can change the decision if they wish: the final decision, however, still rests with them. This approach acknowledges that the team has something to contribute to the decision- making process, and is perceived as highly motivating by the team because they have a degree of influence over the final decision.


  • The leader presents the issue, gets suggestions and then decides. The last level of ‘consultative’ decision-making: the leader outlines the issue and possible options to the team. There is free-ranging discussion about the issue, any proposed solutions, including those put forward by the team. The leader then decides which option to take. At this level of decision-making, team members, who may have a more detailed knowledge or experience of the issue than the leader, are positively encouraged to influence the decision.


  • The leader explains the issue, defines the parameters and asks the team to decide. Often considered to be the first level (of 2) of delegation. In this scenario, the leader gives significant responsibility to the team for arriving at the best decision. While the leader remains accountable for the decision, the parameters set for the team enable the leader to retain appropriate control of the decision. In other words, the leader can mitigate, for example, some of the risk arising from a poor decision by requiring the team to present their solution to the leader before implementation of their preferred solution.


  • The leader allows the team the freedom to identify the problem, develop the options, and decide on the action. The second level of delegation, constrained only by the level of responsibility delegated to the leader, this is the ultimate level of freedom for the team. The team is given full responsibility for identifying and analysing the issue, developing, assessing and evaluating options, before deciding on and implementing their preferred course of action. The leader supports both the decision of the team and implementation of the solution and is accountable for the outcome. Highly motivating for the team, Tannenbaum and Schmidt saw this level of freedom extending only to the most competent and capable of teams.

There will of course be issues that are peculiar to your organisation, however, generally speaking, you may have considered factors such as:


·    Importance of the task;

·    Urgency of the task;

·    Complexity of the task;

·    Skills, knowledge and experience of individuals within the team to carry out the task;

·    Personalities involved;

·    Readiness of an individual to take on the task;

·    Willingness of an individual to take on the task; and/or,

·    Level of support required to enable the selected individual to complete the task.