Which Leadership Style Is Best? Maybe All of Them.

Every leadership expert and every leadership course has a theory on what works best. But after reviewing multiple programs, it soon becomes apparent for many this is nothing more than a hook designed to set their course apart. When it comes down to it there is no “one size fits all “ leadership style and few new ideas have come about since Caesar led the Legions.

By the time I assumed my first leadership role with my current department I was no stranger to different styles of leadership. After a decade in the military, I had seen a few great leaders, a lot of middle of the road ones and even a couple unforgettably terrible losers with rank. But one of the first assignments I had as a new Sgt. was to attend a variety of course designed to teach leadership. Over the years I have attended more than I can remember, some because I wanted to and others because I was “volunteered.” One thing I learned was that despite how the courses were packaged they all said the same basic thing – there are many different styles of leadership and you need to learn which works for you. The best one said something a bit different- there are many different styles, and you need to learn which works for you in EACH SITUATION.

You see there is no perfect leadership style. Don’t believe me? Look at some of the great leaders in history, and you will find that many stuck to a specific style and that it never worked in every situation. Take General Patton for example. There is no doubt that Patton is a military icon, though by many to be a great leader. He could inspire his troops to do the near impossible, fearlessly lead from the front and at the time identified more with the lowly grunts than fellow members of the Officer Corps. But this rough and gruff style did not always work to his advantage or allow him to accomplish the mission. One of his most famous moments involves tormenting a soldier suffering from what we now recognize as PTSD. Arguments with his superiors keep him out of D-DAY. Yes, his style worked when it was appropriate but failed just as horribly.

The point is that leadership styles need to be flexible. No one style works for every leader, and no single leader can rely on a single style all the time. Not only do you need to identify several styles that work for you, but you also need to identify when each style is appropriate and which employees respond best to your different approaches.

I am a firm believer that leaders cannot be made through academics, but that does not mean that it cannot be cultivated or refined. I also believe that any training is beneficial. Even bad training teaches you something (maybe what not to do).

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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