Styles of Leadership - Leadership Continuum Tannenbaum and Schmidt

Leadership behaviours along a continuum
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Leadership behaviours along a continuum

Tannenbaum and Schmidt produced one of the best known works in the field of leadership style research in the late 1950's through to the early 1970's.

They called this work the Continuum of Leadership Behaviour.

The theory places various styles of leadership along a continuum of potential leadership behaviours, based on the degree of authority exercised by the manager and the degree of autonomy available to followers in making decisions.

The continuum is often related to McGregor's Theory X and Y as the leadership styles at the two ends of the spectrum can be related to Theory X or Y respectively.

The continuum shows the degree of control that is retained by the leader.  There are four main styles typified by the words:

  • Tells
  • Sells
  • Consults and
  • Joins

The researches found there were three factors that influence the choice of a leadership style.  In summary they are:

  • The leaders own personality, beliefs, values knowledge and experience and confidence in the subordinate
  • The subordinates need for independence, ability and readiness to take adhesions and rating of the importance of the issue
  • The organisation's culture, pressures and effectiveness

The theory finds that successful leaders have a clear understanding of the organisational forces and have good personal awareness.

Examine this continuum and your own leadership style.  Question how others will see your style and place yourself on the continuum.  Look to the characteristics of other points on the continuum and look at the development you may need to move along the continuum.

See the presentation below!

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