Theories of leadership, in general, attempt to describe, categorize, and explain different behaviors when among a group of individuals, one individual directs, influences, commands the other individuals.

Leadership can occur in any situation where there is more than one individual.

One particular theory of leadership separates behaviors into two extremes:

  • dominance – leading through enforcement, punishment, coercion, reward, aggression.
  • prestige – leadership where others defer freely to the leader, because they admire and respect their skills, and treat them as a role model.

These two extreme ends each have their place, depending on the situation.

During a crisis situation requiring rapid responsiveness and clear action, the dominant leadership style is important, to get everybody moving in the right direction on the right things.

During a situation when a team needs to be empowered, such as solving a long and complex problem, the prestige leadership style can draw out the best contributions of all team members.

The above way of categorizing leadership styles – and indeed there are many different ways to categorize it – leaves some food for thought.

What is the natural leadership style that you gravitate towards? When do you need to learn to do more of the other?

“How to spot a dominant or a prestige leader

Dominant business leaders are likely to monitor closely team members they perceive as a threat, and eventually ostracize them if they become too ‘dangerous’. They do this by assigning them tasks that do not match their skillsets, to prevent them from excelling. They are also more likely to discourage their team from forming close bonds.

Conversely, prestige-driven leaders will embrace high-flying employees and recruit them as allies rather than turn them into enemies. They will give their team the freedom to excel in roles that match their talents and encourage team bonding.

Dominant leaders know that ‘knowledge is power’ and therefore withhold information to maintain their status, while prestige leaders believe in information sharing.”

Source: WE Forum article

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