What’s your leadership style? Find a celebrity match for the way you lead your PTO.


The Boss

Your mantra: Get it done, save the excuses. You have no time for subpar performances from any of your group’s members. Although you might be a little rough around the edges at times, folks in your group look up to you and your experience in running top-notch events and programs at the school.

Famous Boss: Donald Trump

If you’re like the Donald, you practice autocratic leadership. You get things done, but you have trouble building broad support. In the long term, you’ll get more accomplished if you let others share in decisionmaking and if you set goals rather than dictate methods.

The Avoider

Your new role has many varied responsibilities, but you don’t really feel cut out for them. This isn’t what you signed up for. Maybe you can just avoid the problem, and things will take care of themselves.

Famous Avoider: Britney Spears

Most Britney-type laissez-faire leaders aren’t physically missing; they just never fully take on their leadership role. Maybe you stepped forward because no one else would. You don’t mind the work, but you’re not comfortable setting agendas or telling others what to do. Typically, the group gets little accomplished. You’ll do better to bite the bullet and lay out a plan up front, then let it guide you through the year.

The Builder

You are all about community. You believe in including and encouraging others. If someone says “I’d like to help, but I’ve never done this before,” your answer is “Don’t worry; I’ll show you!” You set the agenda, but you like to help people reach their own goals, too.

Famous Builder: Oprah Winfrey

If you’re an Oprah type, you practice democratic, participative leadership. You’re good at building involvement, and your group likely has many successful committees. Your weakness likely is that you sometimes delegate too much; you don’t always give people the kind of direction they need to do the job in the best way possible.

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What It All Means

Participative leaders generally are the most effective at building involvement. They let people have a say in setting goals and making decisions, and they let people use their talents and pursue their own interests for the betterment of the group. This approach builds on itself to create loyalty and support.

However, most good leaders use different styles at different times. New volunteers may need and want very specific directions for a task. Autocratic leadership—telling them what to do and how to do it—can be effective in this situation. Likewise, you may have a member who knows a lot more than you do about, for example, running an auction. Perhaps you have never run a large event, but she has broad experience organizing charity auctions. In that case, you might take a more laissez-faire, hands-off approach and let her just take over.

The key is to understand your own tendencies and then seek a balanced approach.

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