Op-ed: 2 leadership styles all good bosses must balance

Every successful leader must juggle two main leadership styles: prestige and dominance, according to Jon Maner, PhD, professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Ill.

Dr. Maner recently wrote an op-ed for Harvard Business Review describing the two leadership styles people can use to steer through social and organizational hierarchies.

• When individuals lead through dominance, they leverage their own power and formal authority to influence their peers, according to Dr. Maner.

• These types of leaders reach their goals by asserting their role as the boss, using bonuses and promotions as incentives for employees and threatening punishment to those not exhibiting the desired behavior.

• Most dominant leaders crave power, knowing subordinates will agree with any decision they make.

• This dominant leadership style is most effective when leaders must get everyone aligned quickly and moving in the same direction, according to Dr. Maner.

• To lead through prestige, individuals must demonstrate their own knowledge and expertise before encouraging others to follow their lead, according to Dr. Maner.

• Prestige leaders act as role models, influencing others even without formal authority or power.

• While prestigious leaders enjoy being respected and admired, they are less interested in always maintaining power or getting their way than dominant leaders. They often allow other individuals to set the course, subtly directing them from behind the scenes.

• Prestige works best as a leadership style when leaders are trying to empower their subordinates, according to Dr. Maner.

One leadership style is not better or worse than the other, said Dr. Maner in the op-ed. Good leaders switch back and forth between the two approaches based on the specific situation and an organization's culture. The most effective leaders can diagnose a situation and choose the leadership approach that will best achieve the desired outcome.


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