Leadership Continuum Displays the Wide Range of Leadership Style

R. Tannenbaum and W, H. Schmit has displayed the wide range of leadership style on a continuum that moves from authoritarian to free-rein.

It specifies five styles between the two extremes i.e. boss-and subordinates-centered leadership. The following diagram shows this continuum;

They mentioned that a wide range of forces/factors determine whether directive leadership, participative leadership or something in between is the best.

These factors fall into three groups;

  1. Forces relating to the manager or leader: These include manager’s personality, experience and value system, his confidence in subordinates, leadership inclination, feeling of security in an uncertain situation, etc.
  2. Forces relating to the subordinates: These include readiness of subordinates to assume responsibility for making decisions, need of subordinates for independence, interest in the problem at hand, knowledge to deal with the problem, expectations about sharing in decision making, tolerance for ambiguity, etc.
  3. Forces relating to the situation: These include organization’s preferred style, size and nature of work group, group effectiveness, nature of the problem itself, time constraints, etc.

On the basis of the above forces a manager can choose appropriate leadership style. More often than not, managers lean toward the leadership style preferred by the organization’s top bosses.