First Blog Post!

posted in: Purple Governance | 1

Leadership Styles

The end of a school year is a good opportunity for reflection. How have I performed as a chair this year? Do I cringe at anything I have said or done? Did I encourage my colleagues to participate in debate? Did I value their comments and input in our discussions? Will I do anything differently in the next academic year? Have I offered enough support and challenge? Have I supported others? Have my Reviews of Governance/Health Checks done enough to encourage governing boards to consider their own practice?

I am also reflecting on my ‘Leadership Style’. Room for improvement?

On this wet Wirral afternoon I have amused myself with answering some questions shown on a Googled website. Yes I know that a) it is supposed to be summer and b) not everything you read is true. However it has amused me and has actually also given me some food for thought.

It appears that I have two well developed styles :


Pace-setting leaders expect excellence and self-direction, and can be summed up as ‘Do as I do, now’. The Pace-setter very much leads by example, but this type of leadership only works with a highly-competent and well-motivated team. It can only be sustained for a while without team members flagging. Like the Coercive leader, Pace-setters also show drive to succeed and initiative, but instead of self-control, these are coupled with conscientiousness.


Authoritative leaders move people towards a vision, so are often described as ‘Visionary’. This style is probably best summed up as ‘Come with me’. It is the most useful style when a new vision or clear direction is needed, and is most strongly positive. Authoritative leaders are high in self-confidence and empathy, acting as a change catalyst by drawing people into the vision and engaging them with the future.

It seems I have 4 areas that are not so well developed!


Coercive leaders demand immediate obedience. In a single phrase, this style is ‘Do what I tell you’. These leaders show initiative, self-control, and drive to succeed. There is, of course, a time and a place for such leadership: a battlefield is the classic example, but any crisis will need clear, calm, commanding leadership. This style does not, however, encourage anyone else to take the initiative, and often has a negative effect on how people feel.


An affiliative leader values and creates emotional bonds and harmony, believing that ‘People come first’. Such leaders demonstrate empathy, and strong communication skills, and are very good at building relationships. This style is most useful when a team has been through a difficult experience, and needs to heal rifts, or develop motivation. It is not a very goal-oriented style, so anyone using it will need to make sure others understand that the goal is team harmony, and not specific tasks. It is probably obvious from this that it cannot be used on its own for any length of time if you need to ‘get the job done’.


The democratic leader builds consensus through participation, constantly asking ‘What do you think?’, and showing high levels of collaboration, team leadership and strong communication skills. This style of leadership works well in developing ownership for a project, but it can make for slow progress towards goals, until a certain amount of momentum has built up. Anyone wishing to use this style will need to make sure that senior managers are signed up to the process, and understand that it may take time to develop the consensus.


A coaching leader will develop people, allowing them to try different approaches in an open way. The phrase that sums up this style is ‘Try it’, and this leader shows high levels of empathy, self-awareness and skills in developing others. A coaching style is especially useful when an organisation values long-term staff development.

Where are you?

Where have your reflections taken you?  How do you see your leadership style?

I had a thoughtful half an hour with this website Do share your results! Feel free to comment on mine!

It has also stopped raining……..

  1. Fiona Stagg

    Thanks Jane – this was an interesting way to spend 15 minutes. I think I have done something similar when I did the Chair’s Leadership Development Programme. Thankfully I was identified as being a Chair which was a relief!

    I too was identified as pace- setting and visionary (which after all is the first core function of governance) but interestingly my third style was coaching. I have done a short course in mentoring and we were told time and again that coaching and mentoring are different things but in our line of ‘work’ there is very often a huge cross over between the two.

    On the other hand we could spend hours unpicking the dichotomy between having a leadership style as pace setter and coaching because when you have to do things at pace you don’t necessarily have time to coach let alone much else!

    The areas where my leadership style is not so well developed are the same as yours but without the coaching – obviously.

    It is a crude toolkit but anything which gives us food for thought is worth considering so thanks for posting

    For what it’s worth, and I am happy to have this taken apart my own leadership approach is 3 fold;

    Lead the GB team as chair – first amongst equals etc
    Push the GB team to grow, develop new skills, eg succession planning etc
    Follow the team as they grow and learn from them

    Just a thought for a chilly August evening…

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