Leadership Styles in Early Years

Recognising Leadership Styles

There are a great many publications on leadership styles and the following examples are just some of our favoured methods, especially in early years settings.


This leadership style is used to influence people to comply and not to think for themselves. Remember ‘leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective’. A leader-follower will be someone who puts their needs last as they seek to humbly serve those around them. Where this methodology is used, it creates workers who desire investment in their jobs and the organisation as a whole.

Intent-based leadership 

This model by David Marquet could be more beneficial than the leader-follower model, especially in early year’s settings.

Treating subordinates as leaders by giving them control and not taking control over them. This environment helps people feel valued and proud of being part of something bigger than themselves. When people are inspired they feel like they can take responsibility and have authority to rise to the occasion when necessary. Leaders need to listen more, spending less time talking about what they want to accomplish. If a leader listens to all members ideas before steaming ahead with their vision, means they will have bought into the future of the organisation. Successful organisations place responsibility on the shoulders of all employees and not just the leaders.

Leaders assist members to tackle any issue, making them feel empowered by providing trust and confidence in them to make them feel more confident in the long run.

Leadership in early years

Distributed leadership

The sharing of leadership so additional members other than the manager can take an active lead. Early years practitioners are far more at ease with a democratic leadership style rather than an autocratic style. This is a deliberate strategy in which aspects of leadership behaviour and actions are shared with some, though not necessarily all staff throughout the organisation.

This particular leadership style is good for early year’s settings as it creates a collaborative rather than competitive way and so a distributed leadership model is the best fit.

Further reference material:



 Leadership and management courses NDNA (National Day Nurseries Association)



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