All social groups have leaders, although, not every leader is overt. In the family, the leaders, of course, are the parents.

In the primary group, for example, leadership tend to be informal. This can be clearly seen in the family unit where father is the head of the group even though it is not officially stated.

In secondary groups, leaders tend to be formal as they have a document stating their leaders are appointed and what the duties are.

Virtually every group has a leader, even though the group leadership functions and styles may vary significantly.

Leadership function is a term used by sociologists to refer to the main focus and goal of the leaders.

Sociologist usually distinguishes between two types of leadership function: expressive and instrumental.

An Instrumental leader is a leader who is mostly concerned with achieving group goals and accomplishing group tasks.

This kind of leader tries to achieve the group goals even if it alleviates some members of the group.We can imagine that an army general would be an instrumental leader

An expressive leader, on the other hand, is a leader who is mostly concerned with strengthening the emotional bonds of the groups.

This main goal of an expressive leader is to improve the quality of relationships among members of the group. He may not partake in any activities that alienate others members of the group.

Again, we can imagine parents as expressive leaders.

Closely related to leadership function is leadership styles.

Leadership styles are a leader's behavior. It is a result of the personality and experience of the leader.

Sociologists usually distinguished between three leadership styles: authoritarian, democratic leadership, and laissez-faire leadership.

An authoritarian leader is a leader that attempt  to gain maximum control over the group by issuing command and assigning tasks to group members

He is a clear instrumental leaders with a strong focus on achieving group goals. They make decisions on their own and expect group members to comply.

This kind of leader risks alienating other group members. This kind of leadership style is, however, suitable in emergencies where urgent decisions are required.

A democratic leader is a leader who engaged in extensive consultation with other group members before making a decision.

This kind of leader encourages group members to participate in decision-making. This leadership style is common in clubs and cooperative society where members vote on activities to pursue.

The downside of this leadership style is that it may lead to fighting and enmity if there is a clash of opinions.

Democratic leadership is also not suitable in for emergencies because reaching a consensus is time-consuming and discordant to the exigency nature of emergencies.

Laissez-faire (French term for "leave-it- alone") leaders are leaders who leave the group to fend for themselves.

They take an hands-off approach and give members free hands in deciding their decisions. They are less effective in group decision-making.

These leadership styles are suitable for groups where members are matured or highly motivated such that they don't need much direction from the their leader. However, this group risk making slow progress especially if members are dependent of the leaders direction. Plus, laissez-faire leadership is never suitable in an emergency where urgent decisions are required.


While there exist different leadership styles and functions, the onus is on every leaders to ensure that he leads according to the best needs of the group. Because the dynamics of social group is ever-changing, effective leadership demands that leaders adapt their leadership styles to suit the needs of their social  group.

Which leadership styles is good for your country? tell me your answers in the comment box.

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