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Leadership Styles Activity

Directions to LeadershipObjective: To recognize that a good leader uses all three styles of leadership — authoritarian (autocratic), participative (democratic), and delegative (free reign).

Time: About 40 Minutes


Divide the class into small groups (3 to 4 learners). The first exercise is to help the learners recognize the three leadership styles. There are no correct answers. Each individual must realize that each person reacts differently to certain situations. However, the goal is to act like a leader for that situation.

After they have completed the first exercise, gather the small groups back together and have them work alone on the second exercise. It is a reflection period on the past to determine what leadership style was used and if a different style would have been better. After about 20 minutes have them discuss their reflections.

Exercise One

Listed below are some scenarios of different leadership styles. Determine what style is being used, and then discuss if it is correct for the situation or if a different style would work better. Helpful hint - you have probably been in a similar situation... what was your reaction to that style at the time?

  1. A business major is leading a team of research scientist working on new ways to use plastic. Although the team discusses the merits of each ideal and project, she retains the final decision making authority.
  2. A new supervisor has just been put in charge of the production line. He immediately starts by telling the crew what changes need to be made. When some suggestions are made, he tells them he does not have time to consider them.
  3. A construction crew has worked together for the last four years with very little change-over in personnel. They always vote whenever a decision has to be made on how to proceed with the project.
  4. The owner of a small electronic store starts every day by telling the three employees what has to be done and how to do it.
  5. An inspection line has no supervisor. They are expected to have the correct staffing, procedures, and expertise on each shift to ensure no defective parts gets pass them.
  6. A new squad leader is just assigned overseas. She immediately calls her squad together for a meeting and asks for their ideas and input on an upcoming field training exercise.
  7. There are seven people on a special project team and each individual is from a different department. Although a leader was elected, for a decision to pass it must have the approval of each individual.
  8. A small department performs the same functions every day. To get information out, the supervisor sends it by email or voice mail, very rarely is a meeting called.
  9. A forklift has its forks raised in the air to put some material in the racks. An employee darts under the forks (safety violation) so he can get back to his workstation in time. The supervisor tells him very sternly not to ever do that again and notes it in his log.
  10. A project is running late. The manager puts out a course of action to take to try to put it back on track. Later that week she calls a meeting of all supervisors and key players to create a strategy to keep the project running on schedule.
  11. A manager is working on the budget. He is told to get a hot project running immediately. He calls his staff together and explains the project. He then tells them to get it up and going while he completes the budget.
  12. A newly hired supervisor is not allowed to make any decisions unless it is approved by the manager first.

Exercise Two

Below each of the statements, write some comments about it, such as: did it work, could a different style have worked better, how did the employees feel about the decision, did everyone learn from that style and what did they learn, which style is easiest to use (why?), which style do you prefer the leaders over you to use (why?).

Think of a time when you, or another leader, used the authoritarian (autocratic) style of leadership.

Think of a time when you or another leader used the participative (democratic) style of leadership.

Think of a time when you or another leader used the delegative (free reign) style of leadership.


Next Step

This activity is based on the chapter Leadership Styles

Return to the Leadership Training and Development Outline