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What is a formal leader? Formal leaders are given leadership based on their position with a group.

They are actually assigned to be leaders as part of their role in the group. Examples of formal leaders would be the teacher in a classroom or the manager within a company. The formal leader has a job to organize and direct group members to meet the goals of the organization or team. Formal leaders are often the best leaders in a company but that's not always the case. What is an informal leader? In contrast to the formal leader, the informal leader is someone who does not have the official authority to direct the group. Despite this, the group chooses to follow the lead of this person. For example, the class clown may be someone that the students in the class take cues from even though the teacher is the official leader of the classroom. The informal leader may arise because he is charismatic and outgoing so that people want to listen to him, because she is easy to talk to, or because she exhibits certain knowledge and ideas that seem useful to the group. He may specifically choose to take on a leadership role or this may just naturally happen as part of the dynamics of the group. The informal leader can be the best leader in the group because of the fact that the group has naturally chosen him or her. Understanding the difference between formal and informal leaders The difference between a formal and informal leader goes well beyond just the fact that the formal leader has been given official authority to lead the group. We can see this when we look at the teacher / class clown example. After all, the goals of the class clown are in direct competition with the goals of the teacher. It is important for formal leaders and informal leaders to figure out a way to work together if a group is going to truly have solid leadership. Creating a positive balance between informal and formal leaders begins with an understand of their different roles. Formal leaders direct individuals in meeting the goals of the company, organization or team. Informal leaders may or may not do this as they tend to follow their own agenda. In the case of the teacher and class clown, the teacher is encouraging the group to follow the rules of the school whereas the class clown is encouraging the kids to have fun. They are each the best leader in their respective areas.

Positive and Negative Approaches

There is a difference in ways leaders approach their employee. Positive leaders use rewards, such as education, independence, etc. to motivate employees. While negative employers emphasize penalties. While the negative approach has a place in a leader's repertoire of tools, it must be used carefully due to its high cost on the human spirit.

Negative leaders act domineering and superior with people. They believe the only way to get things done is through penalties, such as loss of job, days off without pay, reprimanding employees in front of others, etc. They believe their authority is increased by frightening everyone into higher levels of productivity. Yet what always happens when this approach is used wrongly is that morale falls; which of course leads to lower productivity. Also note that most leaders do not strictly use one or another, but are somewhere on a continuum ranging from extremely positive to extremely negative. People who continuously work out of the negative are bosses while those who primarily work out of the positive are considered real leaders.

Leadership Styles:

What are Common Types of Leadership?

How do various leadership styles perform? How does somebody develop a style of leadership? There are a number of leadership types that have been observed and studied, as you certainly know. Authorities and experts have several common systems for classifying these different styles. All the classification systems of leadership below are valid and offer some guidance from which a leader can learn. Look at the several classification systems below, and consider which one best suits your needs and your situation.

Most of the work that is accomplished is not yours, its the work of others. The leader who can be the coach, coordinator, and cheerleader will be successful in todays business environment. (Ed Rehkopf, Leadership on the Line)

Some authorities say leadership consists of three styles:

Authoritarian or autocratic this is the commanding styleDo as I say, because I am the boss. This style is based on the power of the position. Democratic or participative (sometimes called authoritative) this is the style that includes participation and greater equality between leader and followers. This leader asks, What do you think? and may make some decisions by majority rule. Laissez-faire or free reign this style is unengaged in leadership, and simply lets people do their own thing with the leader exerting few controls.

The free reign style can be good or bad, depending on whether the followers are high performers or not. Good performers need free reign to perform best, but for beginners and marginal performers this style is completely ineffective.

Some authorities say leadership can be categorized into two styles:

Transactional focused on operations or the business of the organization. This leadership goal is to maintain the status quo. In this conception leadership rests on the unspoken agreement between leader and employee, in which the leader is in charge, and the employee, by accepting the job, agrees to that fact. Transformational - focused on creating a new and shared vision of the future. How do we get from where we currently are to where we need to be? The status quo is no longer enough. This style seeks to transform the organization.

Situational leadership:
This classification of leadership types is based on the work of Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard and is well-respected. They believe that leaders should be able to move back and forth between four styles, based on the needs of the follower and the situation itself. S(Style)1 Telling or Directing; leader makes decisions and communication is primarily one-way. S2 Selling or Coaching; leader involves followers in offering ideas but leader still makes decisions. S3 Participating or Supporting; leader allows followers to have an increasing say in decisions but provides coordination and guidance. S4 Delegating; leader allows capable others to perform largely on their own and make their own decisions. Hersey and Blanchard say that all of these styles are appropriate and necessary under particular conditions. A good leader uses all these styles and at the correct times.

Other Common Leadership Styles:

Several other common leadership styles have been widely studied. Two of them are: Servant leadership and bureaucratic leadership. Servant leadership The style called servant leadership is based on a term coined by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s. This refers to anyone (whether having a formal leadership title or not) who leads by meeting the needs of others or of his or her team. This leadership style is based on strong values and personal integrity. Its quiet, without fanfare. Bureaucratic leadership This type can be defined as by the book leadership. This leader focuses on policy and procedures and seeks to keep things fair and well-organized.

The RIGHT Leadership Style...?

Many experts believe there is no one right leadership type or style.

While this is partly true, if there is one default style of leadership that is most effective in todays organizational environment it is probably something resembling "participative." The visionary style, especially when it includes democratic and participative elements, is also nearly always effective. Review the most effective styles for the 21st century here. In the early years of an organizations development the leader may need to be somewhat more authoritative and directive (not authoritarian. See above definitions.) providing a fair and just source of answers and boundaries. This leadership type at this juncture helps provide stability and lays the foundation for growth. As the organization matures, followers can increasingly participate in setting goals and solving problems. A laissezfaire style, or delegating style, is more appropriate as the organization matures and followers learn and grow. Your leadership style does not have to be based merely on your personality you can choose a style. You can and should further develop your ability to use various leadership styles. Create an inclusive style, a style that you can vary. Try new behaviors and techniques, depending on what the situation calls for and what fits with your personality and your values.