Leadership Styles

Leadership Styles


We all have our own style: how we like to
dress, the type of movies we enjoy, the type of car we prefer—even our communication
style, or how we prefer to communicate. We often refer to different ways people communicate
when they lead groups as their leadership style, and that’s what this video will focus
on: the Styles perspective on leadership, specifically the view proposed by Kurt Lewin
in 1939. Lewin has been referred to by some as the
father of modern psychology. After the trait leadership perspective fell
out of favor (that was the belief that leaders are born, not made, and share common traits),
Lewin suggested an alternative approach. Instead of focusing on traits of leaders,
he advised looking at leadership styles. He came to this conclusion after running experiments
with children to see how they responded to different behaviors. Lewin identified three leadership styles:
Authoritarian, Democratic, and Laissez-faire. We’ll start with Authoritarian, sometimes
called Autocratic. This style is a very directive. The autocratic leader has complete authority
and control over the group and the decisions being made. The work is done the same way, with little
room for creativity. Group members are not encouraged to provide
input. Most people hold negative views of an autocratic
leader, often describing them as “bossy” or “a dictator.” However, there are definitely times when the
authoritative leadership style is effective: When decisions need to be made quickly, in
an emergency situation, when the leader is the most knowledgeable and experienced person
in the group, and when it’s important to know who is in charge. It can also be appropriate when the group
is languishing and not getting anything done. Sometimes someone has to step in and take
charge. Beyond the obvious drawback that the authoritarian
style tends to be less enjoyable from a subordinate’s perspective, the lack of hearing dissenting
views may result in poor decisions. If you use this style, make it clear that,
even though you are in charge, you respect everyone. If your team members have expertise, acknowledge
it or, at the very least, don’t discount it, even if your decision is firm. Recognize your team’s accomplishments, both
as individuals and as a group, in public if possible. Refrain from criticizing in public, however. Be consistent in how you apply your decisions
and interact with people. And be reliable and trustworthy. You don’t have to tell your team everything,
but what you do tell them should be truthful. Be very clear as to your expectations. If possible, give the reasoning behind those
expectations and what your team can expect in the future. And make sure you can provide your team with
what they need to do the job, such as training, information, and resources. Another way to say this is, “Be pleasant
while being firm, unless there is a good reason not to soften the message.” We turn next to Democratic leadership, sometimes
referred to as a Participative, or Participatory leadership style. Rather than giving directions, the leader
participates in the group and encourages others’ to share their ideas and opinions, even though
the leader may have the final say over decisions. Rather than telling, the democratic leader
guides or facilitates. In Lewin’s original research, decisions
were made by majority rule rather than by the leader. The democratic leadership style is effective
in producing more ideas, both in quantity and creativeness. Because dissenting opinions are heard, decisions
may be more effective. Like the children in Lewin’s original research,
people tend to feel better about being members of the group and may be more committed to
the project as well as to the group. An obvious drawback is that decisions take
more time, meetings can seem endless or numerous—especially if the leader isn’t skilled. It won’t work if your group members aren’t
competent or motivated. And, sometimes, you just don’t need everyone’s
input or for them to feel good about the situation. When you use this style,
Encourage your group to communicate. You’ll need to monitor the group to ensure
that all participate and that no one dominates the discussion. If possible, hold your views to yourself until
after others have offered theirs. Treat all ideas with respect, even if you
don’t agree with them. Hold off on evaluating until all ideas have
been voiced. Pay attention to the discussion to make sure
it doesn’t wander off. An agenda will definitely help in this case. And be aware of your verbal and nonverbal
communication to make sure you are using provisional language and that your facial expressions
show your interest and desire to understand. If you are the final decision-maker, know
when to move from a participant role to the decision-maker role and, when you make your
decision, explain the rationale without apology. If you are a facilitator who is helping the
group make the decision, know when to call for that decision. So, encourage participation while staying
on track. These first two styles, authoritarian and
democratic, are discussed the most. In fact, some textbooks omit the third leadership
style that Lewin proposed, the laissez-faire approach. Laissez-faire is French for “allow to do.” It’s been called the “do nothing” approach. Laissez-faire leaders use a hands-off style,
letting the group members make decisions. Another way to look at it is as a delegative
approach. Some suggest that someone who is a role model
can end up being a laissez-faire leader; even by doing nothing—or, at least, not intentionally
doing something—others will emulate them. Also, consider how someone’s mere presence
can motivate the group: A group tends to be more productive and focused if a manager is
on the premises, even if the manager does nothing but observe. It can be effective with highly skilled and
motivated teams that, when given appropriate direction and resources at the beginning,
can complete the project with minimal involvement by the leader. This style can also work well if independence
is a value of the group. But, if the group is neither competent nor
motivated, this leadership style can be disastrous. Group members may be dissatisfied with the
group’s progress—and the leader. Oftentimes, if a laissez-faire leader is ineffective,
someone else with an authoritarian or democratic style will take over, meaning that the laissez-faire
leader is a leader in name only. If you plan to use this style,
Make sure you provide the necessary information, background, tools, and resources in the beginning. Ensure that all know of looming deadlines. Monitor the group’s progress, from a distance,
so that you can step in, if necessary. Be flexible; you may need to change leadership
styles. The takeaway from this is, if you’re going
to be a laisse-faire leader, make sure the style is warranted and be willing to change. Processing Time! Which of Lewin’s three leadership styles
do you think is the most effective? According to Lewin, the most effective leadership
style was Democratic while the least effective was laissez-faire. As Lewin’s research was done with children,
do you think his findings can be generalized to adults? Lewin believed that we all have a dominant
leadership style—the style we prefer to use. Which of the three styles do you think is
your preferred style? You may have answered, “It depends” to
this last one. That’s not a surprise, as Lewin’s theory
was used to develop other leadership styles theories, most notably Hersey and Blanchard’s
Situational Leadership Theory. So we can credit Lewin for some of the management
training that is available today.

10 comments

  1. It would all depend upon the nature of work. I'm democratic during the research and  deliberation stage and autocratic or dictatorial during the execution phase once I have reached a decision. I'm laissez faire only during the observation phase when observing my employees to figure how they do things and if there's anything in particular wrong with how they research, analyze, communicate, deliberate, collaborate, execute and monitor and evaluate. I can be extremely autocratic, whenever the need arises to intervene or when I realize that the employees can't be trusted to perform on their own. My employees behave because they know I can be very brutal when it comes to firing them, so they generally don't provide me with an opportunity which could cost them more than merely their jobs or careers.

  2. Brave explanation; Authoritrian have a directive style while Leaders are in control , giving orders. They have place of being creative they like open communication. True Democratic style is when they bring brave idea In the Group and they have energy to work with the group as long as the group is willing to work with their team leaders because evey body will bring up their own style to work as togetherness. I love all three explanations because it helps me to know how leaders work properly and do their duties.Sound video.

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