Different leadership styles

People oriented and Task oriented leadership

There are two types of different leadership styles that use different methods when working with groups of people. Task oriented leadership focuses particularly on achieving the task while people oriented leadership focuses on the well-being of the team members.

Both types are effective if used in specific stages of team development or applied in certain situations. Each type falls in to 3 different styles that can be used to gain full potential and best performance while achieving the task. Important is to choose the correct style for the situation and be able to execute it correctly to avoid misunderstandings, conflicts and confrontation of the team members.

In some situations two or more leadership styles can be used and mixed together. I will explain and describe all the six styles and provide examples of where it could be used in most effective way. Also I will point out differences, similarities and conditions on where styles produce best results.

Task oriented leadership styles


A task oriented style that mainly focuses on getting the task done as soon as possible. Often leaders that use this style have a clear vision and receive little or no input from the team members at all. This style is most effective when there is little room for mistakes to be made, which is why everything is dictated and supervised by the leader. Authoritarian leaders tend not to go in to negotiation, they want task to be done as they say and they are not likely to be interested in how the individuals feel about it, all they want to see is completed work, which is why they will remove obstructions out of their way even if it will be a team member, because their focus is their task. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about their team, but most likely they will not tolerate much confrontation and will probably punish the individual that is causing the trouble or even eliminate him from the team.




First day at new recruit boot camp: drill instructor has to display strong authoritarian leadership to give new recruits a sense of discipline and understanding of what being a soldier actually feels like. Drill instructor will put recruits under pressure by that challenging their physical and mental abilities with loud, direct commands and no negotiations that really encourage recruits to do activities they are asked to. Some of them cannot handle that much of a pressure and they have to leave in the first days of boot camp. Drill helps to filter recruits and only keep the ones who can handle the challenges.



Riots and public disorder: in dangerous and urgent situations like riots, police squad leader task would be to control his squad in intense environment and that would require leader to be as clear and direct as possible with his commands. Time and danger to public, officers and property are major factors in this situation. Leader can use mix of styles like authoritarian and transformational or transactional to encourage officers to keep in their posts and don’t give up even if they stand there for 6 hours with no rest. Rioters would also be affected by squad leader, because he might send direct commands to them through megaphone and if they ignore his commands, there could be consequences.


Style that is task oriented and focuses on group performance, supervision and organisation. Transactional leaders use system of reward or punishment to motivate group members to comply with the rules and agreements that has been set and agreed beforehand by the individuals of the team, or motivate team with bonuses or rewards to achieve their best potential and provide outstanding results. Because this style is not people oriented it will not try and encourage the team to share their ideas and opinions about how the task could be done or how team could improve their performance. Transactional leader rather will stick with the settled system and rules that are already in place and he will make sure that everyone will stick with the system by either punishing or rewarding the team. This style is most effective when task requires consistency of team members.


Soldier is late to report for morning duty: Sergeant disciplines the soldier by giving him 50 push ups. Soldier doesn’t like to do a lot of push ups, so next time he will wake up earlier and report no time. Sergeant used a punishment to motivate and encourage the soldier to be on time for the next duty. If he did not learn the lesson, he will get double of that till he learns it.


A leader of army unit briefs before the mission: leader promises that if the unit will display good performance and complete the mission they will receive a higher rank. He provides all the information needed and explains the team that they will be supervised from satellites and that they have to do everything strictly according by the brief and rules.


A leadership style that main focus is the rules, guidelines and overall system that is in place. When managing and organising the team and tasks bureaucratic leader will base his decisions on the rules. This style does not encourage innovation and change; rather it will stick to the current system even if there is no logic or sense when applying the guidelines in particular situation, because rules and guidelines are fixed and updated or changed very rarely – they cannot cover all the situations in life. Lack of flexibility and creativity in this style can cause slow progress of team and task development. But stability and consistency can help bureaucratic leader to have strong knowledge in what his actions should be according to the regulations, so this style would be useful for leaders who enforce the law like police officers.




Traffic officer stops driver that was speeding over the limit: officer has to know High Way code, procedures and all the regulations in order to explain what mistake driver just made and then go through the protocol process to charge the driver for not keeping the speed limit. Being bureaucratic will benefit officer in terms of enforcing the law and doing the job correctly as government guidelines indicate. Being familiar with the guidelines, officer will be more confident when explaining the situation to the offender, so everything should be very clear and simple to understand.


Police officers conducting an arrest of aggressive and socially dis-behaving man: in this scenario officers will use a mixture of leadership styles and include physical force. Bureaucratic leadership style role here would be to explain to the offender why he is arrested and what rights does he have. What procedures he will be going through and what he needs to do regarding to the law like: alcohol breath test or drug test. Situation also includes authoritarian leadership and force to give direct commands and arrest the aggressive citizen.



People oriented leadership styles


In this approach leaders tend to include and encourage team members to share and express their opinions, ideas and thoughts about particular task or situation. By that leader can receive more ways of solving the problem, because individuals in the group might see the problem from different perspective and can have valuable input in solving it. Team members also might have experience and knowledge about the task that is why their collaboration is important. This style makes a good reputation for a leader, because people opinions and ideas are heard and they feel more appreciated in the team by that creating stronger bonds and trust within the team. As this leadership style allows team to participate and involve in planning and expressing their views, leader still keeps the right to make the final decision. This is popular leadership style if the task or situation is not urgent and there is enough time to have discussions and evaluations with the team on which option would be better to the problem.



Squad leader leads debrief after completed drug raid which did not went as planned: because mission is already in the past and debrief is not urgent, leader has time to evaluate all the squad member thoughts and opinions of where they think their strengths and weaknesses were in the mission and why they think mission was unsuccessful. By that making conclusions and improving for the next raid.


Inspector is introducing a new technology to a group of police officers:

A mix of democratic and bureaucratic leadership would be displayed by the Inspector. Democratic, because training is not urgent and officers can have plenty of time to discuss about the new technology, ask questions and provide opinions if they think the technology would really be useful. And bureaucratic leadership, because Inspector has to explain the guidelines how to use the technology correctly and when to use it, so officers don’t break the law themselves when trying to enforce it.



People oriented style of leadership that can only be used with skilled, experienced and responsible team. Laissez-Faire in French means “to leave” this refers for leader setting the task and leaving most of responsibility to the team. Team has the power to make decisions, solve problems and plan, so leader will not need to supervise every step that the team makes and have more time to work on other tasks or see the “bigger picture” of the situation. In order for this style to work, the team has to consist of reliable, highly motivated and trustworthy people; otherwise task might not be done properly or not at all. This style is very useful when leader has a lot of different tasks and responsibilities to do and he knows that he can leave his teams to do the job on their own.




A group of Scene of Crime Officers lead by Forensics Inspector investigates a home burglar: Inspector knows the SOCO (Scene of Crime Officers) team very well and this is not the first time they are doing job like this, so he asks them to collect all the evidence (sets the task) and just leaves SOCO team in the crime scene. By himself the inspector goes to fill paperwork for the scene or investigates potential suspects. Inspector knows that he can trust and rely on the team, because they are experienced specialists.


Inspector and his trained Community support Officer Team are tasked to patrol an area during the football games: Inspector briefs information to the team and sends the team to patrol the area. Officers are experienced enough to be able to patrol alone or in pairs. While patrolling they will make own decisions also reporting back to the Inspector. Most of the responsibility is on Officers.



Style that focuses mainly on the team performance and motivation to combine all the individuals, get them involved in to the task and focus them to look for team interests instead of personal ones. A transformational leader has a level of charisma, energy and ability to sell his ideas and thoughts to people, by that inspiring and motivating them towards involving and achieving the task. That kind of influence has positive and negative sides. Transformational leader supports his team throughout the progress, so people in the team feel less stress and perform with more passion and creativity. Because transformational leader has own vision in mind it is not always the correct way of doing things. If team members do not see the results or progression, but receive plenty of enthusiasm and optimism from the leader it feels quite delusional and they might be not convinced that the leader made right decisions so, he might get confrontation from the team and lose trust in leadership abilities.



Parachute Regiment soldiers are being encouraged before jump to very important mission in Afghanistan: the leader encourages soldiers to make them more confident, so they will try their best when on the mission. Because danger is real, soldiers might feel little anxiety and they need as much support from the leader as possible. They will feel less stress and will be motivated. This will help soldiers to make accurate decisions and a chance of succeeding in the mission will be higher.


During riots Police Officer gets seriously injured and probably won’t live. The rest of the team feels traumatised, because of what happened to their team mate. Chief Inspector leads debrief: Inspector calms and motivates the team, explains that Officers are doing dangerous, but rewarding job and that without them the situation would be uncontrollable and public could get in danger. Also puts optimism about the Officer condition which is in the hospital, so team members would feel better and could keep performing for the upcoming challenges.