The Definition of an Instrumental Leader

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Businesses often show interest in various leadership styles, since the study of these styles helps companies understand what qualities make an effective leader and how leaders can be trained to be more effective. Sociology experts are also often interested in leadership styles and how they have changed or been perceived throughout history. Instrumental is a common type of leadership style often associated with dynamic movement and task-oriented behavior in the business world.


An instrumental leader is one who leads in strategy and functionality. This leader helps organize processes, set projects into motion, and coordinates work with other employees. This type of leader uses all resources available to achieve very particular goals. It is a focused style of leadership that is often a vital part of an organization, especially when it is first formed.


Instrumental leaders tend to be highly self-oriented. This does not mean that they are selfish but that they primarily use their own skill sets to engage those around them. These leaders are so proactive that they must usually depend on their own intelligence, experience, charm and connections to achieve their goals and create a supporting structure as they go.


An instrumental leader is an expert at uniting people. While instrumental leaders are often ambitious and independent, they seek to win groups over to their ideas and plans, and people tend to follow them easily. Whether this occurs because of the leader's own popularity and characteristics or the common acceptance of a required idea is a subject of debate, but either way instrumental leaders tend to naturally win others to a cause.


Instrumental leaders are highly effective, but they may not be the best choice for every leadership position. Some positions require a more thoughtful or emotional approach than instrumental leaders use. In these cases, instrumental leadership can be a negative factor, leading to confusion, internal conflict and disagreements.

Versus Expressive

Expressive leadership is often seen as an opposing or alternative style compared to instrumental. Expressive leaders focus less on goals and more on personal interaction, using emotional appeals and high ideals to win people over rather than dynamic action. The best leaders are typically seen as having both instrumental and expressive qualities.


About the Author

Tyler Lacoma has worked as a writer and editor for several years after graduating from George Fox University with a degree in business management and writing/literature. He works on business and technology topics for clients such as Obsessable, EBSCO,, The TAC Group, Anaxos, Dynamic Page Solutions and others, specializing in ecology, marketing and modern trends.

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