While there have been thousands of books written about leadership, here are a handful of leadership models that have served leaders and leadership development practitioners well. These are the tried and true models that can shift your thinking about leadership and help create teachable leadership moments for others. These models tend to be simple and practical, and they have demonstrated effectiveness.
Here are 10 leadership models with which any leader or aspiring leader should become familiar (Kudos to Mind Tools for supplying many of the summaries in the links, and to Vou):
1. Situational Leadership.
Developed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey, it’s a timeless classic. It is a great model for new managers as it is all about adapting one's leadership style to the developmental needs, or “maturity level”, of your employees. It’s easy to understand and can be used on a daily basis. Your only dilemma will be which version to choose: Hersey or Blanchard?
2. Servant Leadership.
A philosophy and practice of leadership developed by Robert K. Greenleaf. The underlying premise here is that it’s less about you as a leader and all about taking care of those around you. It’s a noble and honorable way to lead and conduct your life.
3. Blake and Mouton’s Leadership Grid.
OK, so it’s really more of a management model, but it’s another timeless classic. Explained by a nice, simple 2x2 grid, it’s all about balancing your concern for people and your concerns for getting things done (tasks). You gotta love those 4x4 grids!
4. Emotional Intelligence.
While Daniel Goleman’s book popularized EQ (Emotional Intelligence), his Harvard Business Review article “What Makes a Leader?” does a great job explaining why the “soft stuff” is so essential to be an effective leader.
5. Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.
K&P do a nice job breaking leadership down into five practices: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. The Leadership Practices Inventory 360 degree assessment that supports the model is also great.
6. Jim’s Collin’s Level Five Leadership.
First published in a 2001 Harvard Business Review article, and then in the book "From Good to Great," Collin’s leadership model describes a hierarchy of leadership capabilities, with level 5 being a mix of humility and will.
7. The Diamond Model of Leadership.
Although not as widely known as Collin’s Level Five model, Jim Clawson actually wrote the book Level Three Leadership two years earlier than the Collin’s Harvard Business Review article. Jim introduced the Diamond Model, which describes four elements of leadership: yourself, others, task, and organization.
8. Six Leadership Passages.
Charan, Drotter, and Noel did a nice job explaining six key developmental passages a leader can advance through in their book "The Leadership Pipeline," along with the skills required to be successful for each passage. The six passages here make a distinction between management and leadership.
9. Authentic Leadership.
Bill George’s work "True North" can make a difference in how you think about leadership and leadership development. Instead of trying to find and copy the prefect set of leadership characteristics, George argues that you’re better off figuring out who you are and what’s important to you, and leading in a way that’s true to yourself.
10. The GROW model.
Widely attributed to Sir John Whittmore (although it’s not certain who really came up with it), GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Obstacles, Options, and Way, Will, or What’s next, depending on which version you use. It’s really more of a coaching model than a leadership model. However, it’s an essential tool for leaders and one of the easiest to understand and effective coaching models.