Here is another excerpt from my new manuscript, Leadership for New Managers: Book Two.
A basic knowledge of different leadership styles will help leader/managers understand and develop their own style of leadership. Effective leader/managers adapt their style to fit a situation or a specific group. This is why it's useful to gain a thorough understanding of other leadership styles. The more approaches new leader/managers are familiar with, the more tools they will be able to use to lead effectively.
A. Basic Leadership Styles
Kurt Lewin, Ronald Lippitt, and Ralph White conducted a study in the 1930s that concentrated on the manner or style of leaders. They identified three basic styles of leadership:
1. Autocratic Leadership
Autocratic leadership is an extreme style of leadership, where leaders have complete power over associates. The leader makes the decisions and closely supervises associates. Associates and
team members have little opportunity to make suggestions, even if these would be in the team's or the organization's best interest.
The benefit of autocratic leadership is that it's incredibly efficient. Autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting their teams. This style of leadership is considered appropriate when decisions need to be made quickly, without the need for input, and when consensus isn't necessary for a successful outcome.
The downside is that most people resent this type of treatment. Autocratic leadership often leads to high absenteeism and high turnover. Sometimes associates prefer this style of leadership. It absolves them from having to provide input and make decisions. It also puts the blame on the leader if things go wrong. The style can be effective for some routine and unskilled jobs. In these situations, the advantages of control may outweigh the disadvantages.
Autocratic leadership is often best used in crises, when decisions must be made quickly and without dissent. For instance, the military often uses an autocratic leadership style; top commanders are responsible for quickly making complex decisions, which allows troops to focus their attention
and energy on performing their allotted tasks and missions.
2. Democratic/Participative Leadership
Democratic leaders make the final decisions, but they include team members in the decision-making process. They encourage creativity, and team members are often highly engaged in projects and decisions. Democratic leadersallow the team to provide input before making a decision, although
the degree of input can vary from leader to leader. This style helps to build some consensus and buy in from associates.
There are many benefits of democratic leadership. Team members tend to have high job satisfaction and are productive because they are more involved in decisions. This style also helps develop people's skills. Team members feel in control of their destiny, so they are motivated to work hard by
more than just a financial reward.
Because participation takes time, this approach can slow decision-making, but the result is often good. The approach can be most suitable when working as a team is essential, and when quality is more important than efficiency or productivity. This style is important when team agreement matters, but it can be difficult to manage when there are lots of different perspectives
The downside of democratic leadership is that it can often hinder situations where speed or efficiency is essential. For instance, during a crisis, a team can waste valuable time gathering people's input. Another downside is that some team members might not have the knowledge or expertise to provide high quality input. some associates may feel that it is the leader’s job
to make decisions decide course of action and therefore, will not contribute input.
3. Laissez-faire Leadership
This French phrase means "leave it be," and it describes leaders who allow their people to work on their own. This type of leadership can also occur naturally when managers do not have sufficient control over their work and their people. Laissez-faireleaders may give their teams complete freedom to do their work and set their own deadlines. They provide support with resources and advice, if needed, but otherwise do not get involved.
This leadership style can be effective if the leader monitors performance and gives feedback to team members regularly. It is most likely to be effective when individual team members are very experienced, highly skilled, and self-starters. Giving team members so much autonomy leads to high job satisfaction and increased productivity. However, it can be damaging if team members don't manage their time well or if they lack skills, or self-motivation.