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The Most Common Leadership Styles and Their Effectiveness

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The way a business is governed can be instrumental in its success. Leaders have the ability to influence their team’s morale and thus their level of output. Knowing this, leaders should govern in ways that increase work ethic. Strong leadership can mean better business outcomes from the work employees are doing. However, weak or aggressive leadership can have the opposite effect, decreasing morale and creating unmotivated, lethargic workers. There are many different leadership styles, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will discuss the three most common leadership styles and how they can affect a business. 

  • Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership

The Autocratic leadership style or Authoritarian leadership style involves a single individual controlling all decision-making processes in a company. Leaders that use an autocratic approach to make decisions with little or no input from employees. Staff and relevant stakeholders are not involved in their leaders’ proposals and advice. Autocratic leaders act solely on their own convictions.

The leader of an authoritarian workplace enforces rules, regulations, and penalties in order to motivate his or her staff. There is no questioning the direction the autocratic leader gives. In some situations, this kind of autonomous leadership can help to make high-level decisions efficiently. Autocratic leadership is best in situations that require high performance, management of urgent and spontaneous issues, and stressful time constraints.

In contrast, research indicates that subordinates with few dependencies on their leaders perform better and act with more self-confidence. Being forced to meet the expectations of an authoritarian leader, often damages self-esteem and the relationship with them.

  • Democratic or Participative Leadership

Democratic leaders make the final decisions but team members are heavily involved in the decision-making process. Employees are encouraged to contribute to projects and decisions. This leads to higher job satisfaction and productivity among members of the team.    

Employees are guided through persuasion and logic and not through fear of punishment. It encourages participation in decision-making. Democratic leadership always involves consultation with the team members and their continued participation in the formulation of plans and strategies. 

Democratic leadership is not the most effective leadership style to utilise when you have to make quick decisions. However, there are many benefits like increased motivation and morale, improved cooperation with management, a higher standard of performance at work, reductions in complaints and less absenteeism and turnover in staff.

  • Delegative or Laissez-Faire Leadership

Team members of laissez-faire leaders have a lot of flexibility in terms of how they carry out their work and when they set their deadlines. While they provide support, resources, and advice when needed, they do not directly participate in the process. The autonomy they provide their employees can often result in higher job satisfaction, but it can also be harmful when team members are unable to manage their time or when they do not have the knowledge, skills and self-motivation to do their job adequately. 

Group members are free to set their own goals and solve their own problems as they see fit, with no direction given. Delegative leaders typically just act as intermediaries. They have little control over tasks their employees complete. Maximum results can still be achieved in this way, with the leader playing a minor role in terms of management.    

The laissez-faire approach has been shown to lead to a failure to coordinate between groups, where members blame each other for mistakes, refuse to take personal responsibility, and put out less effort. Delegative leaders leave group members to make decisions without offering much guidance. When engaging highly qualified experts, this style is effective. However, it can result in poorly defined roles, lack of motivation and poor performance.   

Each leadership style has its own advantages and disadvantages. Research has shown that autocratic leadership is likely to generate hostility in the group and hostility toward the leader but works well when urgent decisions need to be made quickly and frequently. Democratic leaders are more likely to win the group’s loyalty but this style of leadership can be detrimental when those urgent decisions need to be made. Delegative leaders work well for teams full of highly motivated and skilled employees but don’t work very well when employees aren’t adequately trained and situations need fast results. Every business is different and could benefit from each leadership style in different ways. The key to effective leadership is flexibility and a combination of several leadership styles is the most beneficial.

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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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