By Ross Rutman, Assistant Vice President – Habitational
Whether you’re running a small start-up business or a large multinational corporation, leadership is something which is a key to your success. Yet for something which is so important, it’s interesting to note that there’s no single correct way of approaching it.
Many psychologists have attempted over the years to define the different types of leaders. However, the majority of these have evolved from an original concept that was created by Karl Lewin in the 1930s. Here’s an overview of the three different types of leadership which are just as relevant today.
An autocratic leader is one who makes decisions on their own, acting swiftly and without consulting anyone else. They like to retain control over all the decision making and rarely, if ever, accept input from elsewhere.
This style of leadership tends to be very rigid and highly structured, with clear rules that are well-communicated to all concerned.
Having an autocratic leader can be useful in a small group that would otherwise drift without firm direction. It’s also perfect for situations where a decision needs to be made quickly. However, it can be demoralizing for workers, and the leader may be viewed as bossy, difficult, and controlling. This can lead to a high turnover of staff or absenteeism as workers don’t feel valued or included.
Also known as participative leadership, democratic leaders are often viewed as the most effective. While still retaining overall responsibility for decision making, democratic leaders encourage creativity and participation from all members of the group.
As a result of this inclusive atmosphere, workers are more likely to feel encouraged and to experience high levels of job satisfaction, which in turn creates improved productivity.
There are nevertheless some negatives to this leadership style, which include an inability to respond quickly. The democratic process isn’t a fast one, and projects may falter if group members feel underqualified to contribute effectively.
Often viewed negatively by others from a more structured environment, laissez-faire leaders use a far more relaxed approach by handing over control to others. A hands-off approach gives team members the freedom to manage their own time and achieve results in the way they personally prefer. Laissez-faire leaders remain available to provide support as needed, but they don’t interfere in day-to-day task management.
Despite the negative publicity, laissez-faire leaders work extremely well when the team members are knowledgeable, experienced, and self-motivated. Giving individuals the autonomy to self-manage can provide high levels of job satisfaction and create trust. When it doesn’t work so well, productivity can drop and workers may start to avoid the jobs they dislike.
What Type of Leader Are You?
Do you recognize yourself in any of the above three descriptions? Although most people will have a natural inclination towards a particular style, the most effective leaders blend a combination of all three. Knowing what type of leadership style to use in any given situation can create the best possible results and leave team members feeling supported and satisfied.