In business, there are many different kinds of leadership styles that a leader or manager could choose to make use of. Different styles of leadership may be more appropriate to different situations, depending on a business' goals, its industry as well as the skill-level of the staff it employs, among numerous other issues. Ultimately, picking the right type of leadership style is essential: in the most basic terms, it might help to determine the success or failure of the company.
There's three main types of leadership styles, categorised by psychologist Kurt Lewin. They are autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire leadership. Below we define what they are, their pros and cons, and when they are perhaps best used in the business world.
The autocratic leadership style (a.k.a. authoritarian leadership) grants all control to the leaders, meaning that they are 100% responsible for the decision-making process. Therefore the leaders provide their subordinates with the details of what needs to be done, whose suggestions might be shunned or simply ignored.
Pros: This particular type of leadership style does well in businesses and industries where fast decision-making is important, when there's no time to check with employees for their input anyway. It's also useful on members of staff who might not possess the skills or the knowhow to sort out their own work.
Cons: Staff may feel unimportant and ignored, which might affect employee satisfaction and motivation. Creativity can also become negatively affected, as workers are not provided with room to innovate.
Best used: When getting the job done in a certain way is much more important than staff participation and creativity.
The democratic style of leadership (a.k.a. participative leadership) grants some decision-making powers to the group (i.e. other members of staff), but in the end the final decision still belongs to the managers - staff members simply have a chance to give their opinions and recommendations to the work.
Pros: Staff members should feel more wanted, with the added responsibility and the fact that their insights seem to matter. This in turn should lead to a higher standard of motivation.
Cons: With more people included, decisions will take longer to implement. This may be fine when things can take time, but be more of a problem when a decision must be made in a hurry.
Best used: When stuff does not have to get done immediately and innovation and creativity are important factors.
Laissez-faire leadership (which is also known as delegative leadership) is a fairly relaxed leadership style, giving full decision-making control to the employees. It's pretty much up to them to sort out their workload, whilst the managers neither get in the way nor closely monitor what it is they're doing.
Pros: Employees will feel rather important with the high levels of responsibility, as they will be granted independence in what they do.
Cons: If the laissez-faire leadership style is implemented on somebody who is not very good at managing their own work then productivity could plummet. Also, there's the issue that the leaders will look like they're lazy and that they don't want to be included in the goings-on of the workplace.
Best used: When team members are sensible enough to keep on top of their work, as well as when their independence is a positive, beneficial factor, instead of them being instructed what they can and cannot do.