Exploring leadership styles to be an effective leader – Part 2

Know your leadership style and when to utilize different styles for success, such as the democratic and servant leadership styles.

Youth involved in Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development programs have a unique opportunity to try on different leadership styles and develop their skills in this area. “4-H Backpack to Adventure: Youth Leaders in a Global World” (4H1643) describes four different leadership styles: dictatorship (authoritarian), laissez faire, democratic (participative) and servant leadership. The curriculum explores leadership styles and offers individuals and groups activities to experience the different leadership styles. In “Exploring leadership styles to be an effective leader – Part 1,” the dictatorship and laissez faire style leaderships were explored closely. In this article, you will learn more about the democratic and servant leaders.

Democratic leadership style

The democratic (participative) leader often leads to high productivity in a group. This leadership style encourages all group members to be involved as part of the team, focusing on the greater cause. This style of leadership takes time and often members get discouraged before the end product. Group involvement takes time, so decision-making can take longer as compared to the dictator leader discussed in Part 1.

With a democratic leader, group members can feel more involved, motivated and committed to the projects. Creativity is encouraged and rewarded, often leading to more creative solutions and ideas. Group members do need skills and knowledge to contribute to the group process. Trainings and clear expectations are important for the group to be successful. The democratic leader needs to learn with their expectations and roles for the group.

Servant leadership style

A servant leader is an individual whose natural desire is to serve first, and then they make a conscious choice to lead. The objective of a servant leader is to stimulate thought and action for building a better, more caring society.

A servant leader is to stimulate thought and action, not necessary decision. A servant leader promotes the well-being of those around them. Listening, empathy, stewardship, persuasion and building community are some of the characteristics of a servant leader.

Being a leader can be challenging for some and for others it comes very naturally. Being able to try different leadership roles through 4-H Youth Development programs is an excellent opportunity for members to learn, grow and try on new styles in a safe environment. Sharpening leadership skills, no matter if it is natural or if you want to grow in this area, is important as youth grow into productive adults.

If you are interested in more information or activities to explore your leadership styles, contact the MSU Extension Leadership and Civic Engagement work team at 4-hleadership@anr.msu.edu.

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