A common question is if there is a style of leadership that is better than another. Before we can answer that question, we need to discuss some different styles of leadership to set a baseline. I will refrain from assigning merit to one type or another. You can imagine the 3 styles of leadership I’m going to review as a spectrum starting from almost no oversight to complete oversight. Number 2 will be the middle ground that falls between 1 and 3. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and there are steps between each leadership style.
Style of Leadership #1: Laissez-faire Leadership
This is the style of leadership that really lets the people run and do whatever they want. Laissez-faire leadership lets bygones be bygones, doesn’t place any value on discipline, and relies on the integrity of the people to get work done.
Style of Leadership #2: Democratic Leadership
The democratic style of leadership is a blend of the two extremes. It allows your people to have leeway in making decisions and pursuing goals in their own way (like laissez-faire leadership). However, it also holds people accountable for their mistakes and allows for hard-and-fast rules set by the boss (like authoritarian leadership).
Style of Leadership #3: Authoritarian Leadership
Authoritarian leadership can easily be related to the old-school boss-worker relationship where the worker is there to do the boss’s bidding and never speak up. This works best (in the opinion of the autocrat) when the workers are simply cogs in the wheels of the organization. Workers come to work, punch in promptly on time (sometimes early but never late), get their assignment, check the boxes, then punch out promptly on time (never early but sometimes late). Despite some of my phrasing in number 3, it’s important to note that each of these leadership types have their place. Do keep in mind, however, that the most extremes of laissez-faire and authoritarian leadership is never appropriate. Resist the temptation to fall into either of these. In a future post, I’ll discuss situational leadership, which is a better way to lead.
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