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This paper explores different styles of leadership and gives an outline of how they are used by Margaret Chan. Goleman (2000) defines six leadership styles, such as coercive, authoritarian, democratic, affiliative, pacesetting, and coaching. While each of these approaches has its own benefits and it is applicable in particular scenarios, the best result can be achieved with a mix of few or all styles, depending on the circumstances. In this regard, Margaret Chan is a great example of the leader who, by using a combination of coercive, democratic, and authoritarian styles, successfully manages the World Health Organization and addresses worldwide challenges.

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Analysis of Different Leadership Styles

The success of a team depends on numerous factors, including social and economic climate in the company, strategy, and approaches to doing business. However, one of the greatest considerations that define a successful enterprise lies in the style of leadership chosen by the team lead. Margaret Chan, who serves as a Director-General of the World Health Organization, is a wonderful example of how the application of different leadership styles can be crucial for building an extraordinary team.

Six Leadership Styles

Robyn Benincasa (2012), World Champion in Adventure Racing, states that a true leader should have a set of personal qualities rather than titles to be able to set the perfect environment and build a successful team. In this regard, she refers to the study conducted by David Goleman (2000), where he describes six leadership styles. The research has shown that the leadership approach can have a direct and unique impact on the working atmosphere in the team, and affect its financial performance (Goleman, 2000). In particular, Goleman (2000) defines the following styles of leadership:

Coercive Style

A leader with a coercive style has a demanding attitude towards the team and requires total compliance with his orders. He does not tolerate alternative points of view, having a final say in the decision-making process. Coercive management can ruin a friendly atmosphere in the team and result in conflicts between its members. However, this style can help take control in case of crises and effectively deal with emergencies.

Authoritarian Style

Leaders, who choose this approach, focus chiefly on developing a strategy and setting final goals for their organization. They also inspire and make each person feel as if they are a part of the entire business mechanism while keeping the team members free in choosing the best way to achieve the desired result. Nevertheless, this leadership style works ineffectively when applied in a team of exceptional professionals who have a better understanding of their role.

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Affiliative style

The manager with the affiliative style pays most of the attention to building up warm and trustful relationships between the team members. According to Benincasa (2012), this style is particularly useful when the team needs unity or regaining trust among colleagues. It is particularly efficient for bringing harmony to the working process and avoiding tensions. However, the affiliative approach can also result in poor performance and the inability of the team to address emergencies.

Democratic style

Democratic leaders ensure that all people in the company are involved in the decision-making process and they share their opinions on the ongoing processes in the business. Active participation in discussions can make the team feel respected and engaged as well as bring consent between the leader and colleagues. However, Goleman (2000) warns that this leadership style can result in long-lasting meetings and a leaderless atmosphere in the team.

Pacesetting style

As a rule, managers possessing the pacesetting style set extremely high standards and require excellence from all people in the team, irrespective of their skills. It is an effective way to mobilize the team and get the job done quickly and professionally. Nevertheless, harsh conditions can overstress people and plant a seed of doubt in the reasonableness of the chosen exhausting strategy.

Coaching Style

Executives, who choose coaching style, invest in personal and professional training of their colleagues. Each team member acquires new skills and motivation to apply them in the job, which can significantly improve the overall result of the company. The approach is not effective though, as Benincasa (2012) stresses, if the team is reluctant to new learning or if the offered training does not fit the needs of the team.

The quick analysis of six leadership styles reveals the strengths and weaknesses of each of them. It also leads to the conclusion that to achieve the best result in managing the team, the leader should combine several approaches depending on the situation and the type of team he manages. In this aspect, Margaret Chan appears to be an exceptional leader and a master in mixing different leadership styles.

The Background of Margaret Chan

Margaret Chan was born in 1947 in Hong Kong, and she has always struggled to get as much education and skills as possible. However, as Moore (2009) claims, she has never aimed to become a doctor or be in any kind involved in a medical sphere. She finished the Northcote College of Education in her hometown and even started to work as a teacher of English, economics, and natural sciences. The passion for medicine appeared in 1969, after she had met her future husband and, in order to save their relationship, she decided to join him in his medical studies in Canada.

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Excellent education, received in the University of Western Ontario, helped Chan to climb up the career ladder, and after nine years of work in the Hong Kong Department of Health, she reached the position of the director in 1994. Already in 2003, Margaret Chan started to work in the World Health Organization (WHO) as a director of one of its departments. As Hollar (n.d.) provides, while leading the office, she had to find adequate and timely responses to worldwide and regional health problems as well as to manage the team of more than 7,000 employees. Bringing outstanding results to the Department of Protection of the Human Environment allowed Chan to advance to the position of the Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases office in 2005.

The next step in Chan’s career, as described by Shuchman (2007), came in 2007, when she occupied the highest rank in the WHO. Before the appointment to the position of the Director-General of the organization, Margret Chan had to compete with 12 candidates from different countries; however, she was the only specialist with a unique and diverse background in dealing with global health crises such as outbreaks of the H5N1 virus, avian influenza, and SARS. When entering the office, Margaret showed readiness to address any kind of challenge and indicated the key objectives of the organization in the inaugural speech. She also confirmed the need to address critical health situations in developing and African countries, which later became one of the biggest challenges in her career.

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The unprecedented breakout of swine flu in Mexico and the Ebola virus in Africa negatively affected the WHO, and, as Roland (2015) has indicated, it resulted in sharp criticism for giving the late and inadequate response to the disease. Despite poor health infrastructure in endangered states, Margaret Chan has managed to coordinate the efforts of governments and global health organizations and contain the virus before September 2014. This became possible mostly thanks to the leadership skills applied by Margaret Chan

Leadership Styles Used by Margaret Chan

Margaret Chan made a brilliant career and successfully managed large international organizations by using her unique skill of mixing coercive, democratic, and authoritative leadership styles. She has always been ready to be strict and demanding on the decision she came up with, and at the same time, she has managed to keep her colleagues motivated to struggle for better results. Thus, as Shuchman (2007) has demonstrated, back in 1997, when Chan faced the outbreak of the H5N1 virus, she took the courage to act against the will of the Chinese Government demanding the ban of food and herbals as well as the culling of 1.5 million chickens. Taking the coercive approach, Chan caused economic losses to the State; however, as Moore (2009) has claimed, the strategy worked, and she gained recognition by the Thailand government and Queen Elizabeth II.

Chan also uses a democratic style in managing the WHO and pays particular attention to different points before the final decision is made. As an example, Shuchman (2007) provides the comment of Judith Mackay, the coordinator of Lung Foundation’s project for global tobacco control who describes Chan as a highly “organized person … who would never leave a meeting without a clear understanding of what’s the conclusion and what’s the next step” (para. 4). In addition to that, while dealing with the SARS coronavirus in 2003, Chan held press briefings on a daily basis, adding an additional level of transparency, involving scientists from different countries, and bringing out the strategy for an open discussion.

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Margaret Chan also heavily relies on an authoritarian leadership style. For instance, Shuchman (2007) mentioned her inaugural speech, where she had underlined the importance of the strategic approach taken by the WHO and confirmed focus towards African countries as a key goal of the organization. Thus, taking an authoritative approach, not only does Chan define priorities and end goals, but she also allows the team to get a common understanding of the strategy pursued by the organization in the given period.


Leadership is not necessary based on inborn talents, expertise, or titles. Leadership is a gained skill that allows the manager to be flexible in finding a way to mobilize the team around the central goal. Using wisely coercive, authoritarian, affiliative, pacesetting, democratic, or coaching leadership style, a manager can give an adequate response to certain challenges. However, to build a strong team, a leader should use a mix of different styles. By combining coercive, democratic, and authoritarian styles, Margaret Chan has built a great career and demonstrated exceptional results in fighting worldwide challenges.

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