Leadership: Inside View - Leadership Styles

MR AUTOCRAT - The one good thing about him is that he's what it says on the tin. Discussions usually have little point because he's made his mind up already, however much he goes through the motions of listening. In his spare time, he reads management text books, usually about the strong leader he likes to think he is. He responds badly to criticism, but will take the credit if anything goes well. Why shouldn't he? He's the one in charge.

MS DEMOCRAT - She's always keen to let you know she's a listener, but all too often she actually resembles a cushion bearing the impression of the last person who sat on her. She talks a lot about "collaborative working" and "partnership". All her meetings last at least half a day so that everyone can have their say. But when tough decisions need to be made and people look to the boss, she just looks back. Even when the organisation is on the financial skids, she allows staff to vote for costly demerara sugar to be provided for the office coffee.

MR NETWORKER - He has a big office full of photos of him shaking hands with Hazel Blears, the Duchess of Kent and the Bishop of Lewes. Chatters about the "importance of networking", but doesn't appreciate that - just like ambition - it's actually something you demonstrate rather than boast about. No evident outcomes have arisen from his compulsive attendance at receptions or public meetings, where he always carries a glass or perches prominently in the front row and waves at ministers who are not quite sure who he is.

MRS VISIONARY - She manages to persuade her trustees that she needs more time to do blue-sky thinking, so they bring in a deputy director to do all the boring work. After that, any people problems aren't hers, and if the IT system crashes she goes home until it's sorted. The charity becomes little more than a secretariat for her, so staff can't operate without her say-so. Which is frustrating, because she's hardly ever there.

MS MAGICAL - She's out there somewhere - as is Mr Magical. Some leaders let people know what they want, but also listen and empower staff to do more than they think is possible. Constantly challenging, she has big ambitions for you and the organisation, but she also possesses a sense of humour. What's more, she says "thank you" when you've done well and gives you the freedom to take risks. Most days, you go home exhausted but happy. If you ever find her, please forgive her foibles.

- Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay equality charity Stonewall, takes a sardonic look at five different types of leader - all of whom he's worked with.

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