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My Experience of Different Styles of Leadership

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The impacts of different leadership styles do not just affect one person, it can affect generations of leaders both positively and negatively. I have personally experience great leaders and ones that were not. I would like to focus on one leader I had previously and how it affects my leadership today. He was my Battalion Commander and for lack of better words was a total dictator. This left the Battalion in fear of him. I want to talk about position vs. personal power, legitimate vs. referent power, and compliance vs. commitment as we look at my personal experience.

In my experience with my Battalion Commander he used his position for power. He knew he was the Commander of the battalion and always wanted to show his might. I once waited in the battalion for the commander for a 1400 hrs meeting until he strolled in his office at 1600. As a subordinate leader it made me feel harshly about his respect for others. He ensured that when he came in, I would know he was in charge. He would threaten to relive company commanders daily if they had different ideas then his. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” (Eisenhower, n.d.). I learned quickly that personal power was better. I have experienced that if you get to know your subordinates and peers you can get them to do anything. Not only do anything but want to do things without you even having to ask. By building a positive and personal repertoire with others will build a more cohesive team.

When looking at this leader I feel that he used legitimate power due to his position and rank in the organization to lead. It is my belief if he would have used referent power, he would have been more successful with the organization and could have transformed it for the better. As a commander myself I learned that mutual trust, respect, and admiration from the team would allow them to able to accomplish anything put in front of them. “The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust” (Lincoln, n.d.). Due to a lack of trust of the battalion commander it made it an extremely hard place to work and accomplish the Army’s mission.

In this unit there was more compliance with the orders given instead of commitment to the unit, mission, and Army. ‘The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow’. Serving for compliance is not the way to go. I have experienced as a leader when you have people who serve with commitment, individuals have higher moral, will go faster, longer, and overall become better Soldiers. This leader did not see that. He was for himself and it was made noticeably clear.

The impacts of different leadership styles do not just affect one person, it can affect generations of leaders both positively and negatively. As I shared my story of how I experienced bad leadership. We looked at position vs. personal power, legitimate vs. referent power, and compliance vs. commitment as we looked at my personal experience. I realized after his tenure was done that, I would never emulate this leader. I believe that Soldiers will go the distance and more if you treat them with respect and honestly just care for the Soldiers. Soldiers if shown the wrong way by someone that they think is successful will continue doing the wrong thing when they become leaders. This will affect generations of future leaders.


  • Eisenhower, D (n.d.). Retrieved August 14, 2020, from Web
  • Lincoln, A (n.d.) The Lincoln treasury (ed. 1950) Powell. C (1995) My American Journey

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