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Leadership 1

How can you recognize good leadership?

Leaders surround us; in practically every facet of our lives there is someone who is acting in a leadership role. Think about the leaders you see at school, at home, in your community, in your extracurricular activities, or in your group of friends. Likely you have had personal interactions with these people, and can intuitively feel if the people in these roles are doing a good job or not. Sometimes it is their words that help you decide if they are effective. Other times, it is their actions. Often, it is the way in which they interact with others that instills confidence in us to trust these people as good leaders. At the same time, you have probably experienced situations where someone in a leadership role was not very effective. Their words, actions, and interactions can leave you feeling uninspired, even uncomfortable. Ultimately, it is how they act as a role model that defines whether or not people are good leaders. As you start to shape your own leadership qualities, you will want to start taking some mental notes of what the effective leaders around you are doing, and then practice these skills.

TASK - Complete this Google Drawing

What styles of leadership have you seen? In the above exercise, you listed examples of leaders you know and the traits they have. What do you notice about their style of leadership? Under what circumstances can you see one style of leadership being more appropriate than another? Add your observations to the Effective Leadership chart.

Leadership Styles:

Think about the leaders you have already identified in the exercise above. They likely share common traits or attributes that relate to their character and the way they interact with others. Kurt Lewin, a German-American psychologist, categorized leaders based on their decision making styles. He identified and defined the following three leadership styles.

The Autocratic Leader makes decisions on his or her own, without much input from others. This authoritarian style has its pros and cons. On the positive side, it allows for quick decision-making, as it does not involve a lot of people. There is no need to consult others and achieve consensus. It can be highly motivating to the leader to be the one in charge of making all the decisions. On the other hand, it can be deeply troubling for followers, as they have very little input into decisions being made. Some people find it difficult to follow a leader when their voices are not being heard. It can also be easy for an autocratic leader to get carried away with his or her own vision, while not engaging others to follow along.

In contrast, the Democratic Leader does not make decisions without first consulting those he or she is leading. We can see this in action in our society when we are asked for our opinion, are asked to vote, or when we can participate in discussions that lead to changes in policies or procedures. This style of leadership also has its pros and cons. On the positive side, group members cooperate more willingly when given the opportunity to have their voice heard, and when they know with certainty that their contributions will make an impact on the decisions being made. This can be highly motivating and can increase engagement. A downfall can be the time it takes to truly consult others, allowing for all voices to be heard and acknowledged. It also takes time to work through the differences that might exist between the ideas, and to come up with a common vision that works for all those involved. And what happens when the group's ideas do not match the leader's ideas? The group would have to determine their next steps in terms of the importance of their ideas compared to the importance of having that leader.

The Laissez-Faire leader gives group members total freedom to decide among themselves what their directions and decisions will be. This can be effective at an initial brainstorming stage or when there really is not a lot to lose. A leader can also choose this style when the group has worked very well together in the past and has demonstrated an ability to come to a responsible agreement on its own. But it is also easy for this style to get out of hand when the group loses its direction and its cohesion, or when the group feels abandoned by its leader and gives up hope of accomplishing anything productive.

Click on each of the images below to access animated learning activities.
Each teaches about key tools to understand leadership qualities and qualities of those being lead.











The information you work through in this task will aid you in completing the Winter games leadership Activity. When you are finished check out the Winter Games Planning Activity.