Leadership Styles Essay Sample

Leadership is a process that is common and applicable in all aspects of life. This paper clearly defines what leadership is and demonstrates different leadership styles. It is mainly going to discuss the leadership style of House-Mitchell path goal theory of leadership and show why these people were successful leaders. It further gives an example of an American writer Zig Zigler as a successful leader using this style. It compares Zigler’s leadership style to leadership style of House-Mitchell path goal theory. It also highlights the traits of a successful leader. Lastly, it shows my strengths that I possess that would benefit Zig Zigler as a leader.


Leadership can be defined as a process of social influence whereby a person relies on the input and support of others in order to realize a common goal. It therefore revolves around coming up with a way for people to put in to making something unexpected and remarkable happen (Bass, 2008). As much as there are different leaders, so are they the leadership styles. However, there are three main or key styles of leadership, that were developed by psychologists and business people with the aim of helping aspiring leaders understand the best approach to use in managing a group of people(Bass, 2008). 

Main discussion

A leadership style can be described as the manner and approach of showing direction, implementing of plans and motivating people. Kurt Lewin (1939) led a group of researchers in identifying three key leadership styles. These were: autocratic or authoritarian style, participative or democratic style and laissez-faire or free rein style. In the authoritarian style, all decision-making powers are with the leaders, and they dictate what they want done and how they want it done. They therefore do not consider any suggestions or input of their subordinates (Bass, 2008).

In the democratic style, decision-making is made by the people being led. The leader gives instructions of what is to be done and how after consulting the group. However, the leader maintains the final decision making authority (Bass, 2008). In the laissez-faire style, the subordinates have maximum freedom when it comes to the issues of decision-making. However, the leader still has responsibility over the decisions made (Bass, 2008).

The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership was developed to illustrate the way leaders should support and encourage their subordinates in attaining their set goals by ensuring the path that they should take is easy and clear (Bass, 2008). The leaders have the responsibility of encouraging their followers by clarifying the path to be taken (through offering directions and giving reliable hints), removing roadblocks on their way (through scouring the paths or involving the followers in doing it), and offering rewards along the route (through encouraging the followers occasionally). Therefore this theory tries to put it clear that the leader’s behavior contributes to the satisfaction, motivation and performance of his followers (Bass, 2008).

House and Mitchell (1974) illustrate four different leadership styles. These are: supportive leadership, directive leadership, participative leadership and achievement-oriented leadership. In supportive leadership the leader shows concern for the needs of the subordinates which translates to their success and welfare (Bass, 2008). This may involve the boosting of their self- esteem which leads to making job more entertaining and interesting especially in a working environment. This style is best used when working conditions are risky, boring and strenuous. In the case of directive leadership, the leader instructs the followers on what needs to be done and offers reliable hints and guidance along the way. This may involve the specification of tasks to be carried out at specific times with guidance of planned schedules. In this style gifts may be offered increasingly if need be to the followers. This style is most applicable where the work to be done is complex and unstructured and the followers are inexpert (Bass, 2008).

In participative leadership, the leader seeks advice from the followers and uses their ideas in making of relevant decisions. This style is best suited in situations where the followers are experienced and their advice or ideas are needed and they are willing to offer them. Achievement -oriented leadership involves the setting of taxing goals both in work and in self- improvement. High standards are established and anticipated. The leader encourages the followers by showing faith that they can be successful. This style is used when the work to be carried out is complicated (Bass, 2008).

House and Mitchell can be considered as successful leaders due to the fact that they try to describe the virtue of effective leadership that involves a leader showing the way and assisting followers all along to achieve their set goals (Bass, 2008). The leadership styles that they use clearly demonstrate that there is usually a clear way of achieving set goals that the leader can be able to see while the followers cannot. It is thus evident that an effective leader is able to show the followers the right path to follow so as to attain their goals. In the four stated leadership styles, a leader can adopt any of them depending on the demand of the situation at hand (Bass, 2008).

A good example of an effective leader is the American writer Zig Zigler. Not only is he a self help author but also a sales person and a motivational speaker. He uses his strong Christian values in his passionate speaking and merges these Christian beliefs with positive thinking to create his own philosophy (Zigler, 2006). Zigler has published over twenty five books on leadership, faith, Christianity, family and success. He clearly presents steps for defining both short term and long term goals and ways in which to realize them which is his basic principle in success (Zigler, 2006).

He defines these steps as one, setting of specific goals and writing them down. Two, having a clear understanding of the reasons behind your ambitions. The third step is to identify the resources needed for you to achieve your intended goals and lastly, developing a scheduled plan of action to achieve your success (Zigler, 2006). These are the four main steps that have led to success of Zigler as a leader.

The leadership style of Zig Zigler greatly compares with the successful leader House – Mitchell Path Goal Theory. This is especially related to the fourth leadership style (Achievement -oriented leadership style). Zigler strongly believes in the setting of challenging goals both in work and self improvement and following the right path to achieve success (Zigler, 2006). This is the main reason as to why he offers inspiring and motivational talks to his followers on how to achieve their intended goals through defined steps. Through this they are able to work around possible obstacles by change of strategies to achieving their goals.

His leadership style also compares to the first style described by House and Mitchell (supportive leadership). This is demonstrated through his concern to people’s welfare by offering motivational talks and writing inspirational books which greatly boosts the self-esteem of readers thus making them attain their set goals (Zigler, 2006).

Zig Zigler possesses quite a number of traits that are useful and makes him a successful leader. This may involve his religious affiliation demonstrated by his strong belief in God. Many of his books that he has written are from a Christian point of view or at least have traces of evangelizing messages in them (Zigler, 2006). He also possesses a balanced lifestyle which is evidenced by him being an author, a salesperson and a motivational speaker. This makes him a good example of a reliable leader.

Moreover, he possesses the trait of having true love for people. This is also shown by his type of publications, and his passion and interest in motivational speaking. Through this he has helped many people realize their dreams by showing them the right path and thus application of the path-goal theory of leadership is evident. These are some of the useful traits that one needs to develop to become a successful leader (Zigler, 2006).

One of my strengths is the strong moral character which is a demand in the modern world for any leader. This leads to transparency and leading by good example by leaders. Delegation is another skill that is equally useful and leads to successful leadership. These skills would benefit any leader including Zig Zigler.


It is evidenced that apart from the three main types of leadership styles that are commonly known, The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership is quite useful. This has led o success of great people like Zig Zigler who has demonstrated good leadership. The theory therefore is applicable in different situations and if applied by leaders, then success would definitely be the outcome.