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Leadership style refers to how a leader influences the behavior of the group members under various circumstances.

It is the behavioural pattern a leader uses to affect his followers' actions in order to achieve the organizational goals or group goals.

Leadership style may also be defined as the behavioural traits hat defined how a leader influences his subordinates and reacts in various situations.

There are three major leadership styles, namely authoritative, democratic and laissez-faire leadership style.

Authoritative leadership style

Authoritative leadership is a leadership style in which the leader has maximum control over the group members and group members have minimum freedom to make decisions by themselves.

Autocratic leaders keep the decision-making authority and completely control the activities of the group. Decision-making is highly centralized in autocratic leadership.

Every decision is made by the authoritarian leader, who then directs his subordinates to carry it out.

He decides by himself without consulting subordinates and gives orders to subordinates to implement the decision made by him.

It should be noted that authoritative leadership is also called dictatorial leadership.

Advantages of authoritative Leadership

1. Decisions can be made more quickly because the leader can do so without consulting anyone else.

2. Authoritative Leadership is suitable for emergencies, where quick decisions are required.

3. Authoritative leadership is useful when subordinates lack relevant work experience and the leader must make the majority of the decisions,

Disadvantages of authoritative leadership

1. Since the leader is the sole decision-maker, decisions made may not be of high quality.

2. A decline in morale among employees as a result of their lack of involvement in decision-

Democratic leadership style

Democratic leadership is a style of leadership in which staff members are consulted and actively involved in decision-making.

Democratic leaders never decide anything without first consulting the group or their subordinates.

A democratic leader will typically encourage the active participation of group members in decision-making. He will make decisions only after consulting with his group members.

Another name for democratic leadership is participative leadership.

Advantages of Democratic leadership

1. Encourages each group member to actively participate in the decision-making process.

2. Boost productivity by encouraging subordinates to take part in decision-making.

3. Democratic leadership increases employees' morale since they are carried along in the decision-making process.

4. Decisions under democratic leadership are better than those under authoritative leadership because all group members are consulted.

Do not forget that two heads are always better than one.

Disadvantages of Democratic Leadership

1. If group members lack maturity and competence, democratic leadership may not be as effective 

2. Since every group member must be consulted before a decision is made, decision-making typically takes a long time.

3. Democratic leadership might not be appropriate for emergencies due to their tendency to make slow decisions

Laissez-faire Leadership style

Laissez-faire leadership involves the leader just serving as a symbolic figurehead; the group is neither led nor directed by the leader.

A laissez-faire leader abstains from making decisions by himself but instead leaves decision-making in the hands of the subordinates or group members.

Laissez-faire leadership is characterized by minimum leader control and maximum freedom for group members to make decisions. 

A laissez-faire leader gives group members the freedom to decide their own objectives, make their own decisions, and plan their own activities without his or her involvement.

Laissez-faire leadership is sometimes called free-rein leadership.

Advantages of Laissez-faire leadership

1. Since subordinates can make and carry out decisions on their own, it fosters creativity.

2. Laissez-faire increases employees commitment, which can help improve productivity.

Disadvantages of Laissez-faire leadership

1. Laissez-faire may cause chaos and instability.

2. Lack of clear decision-making authority in the group may cause uncertainty and frustration.

3. Laissez-faire cannot succeed in emergency situations, where effective organization and hasty decisions are crucial.


The Bottom line

It is quite challenging to say that one leadership style is better than another because each has advantages and disadvantages.

The leadership style a person chooses will depend on several factors including his ability and the skills of his team, to mention a few.

A leader may seek authoritative leadership if he want the most control over the group's decision-making.

Democratic leadership would be appropriate if a leader prefers to always ask for opinion from their followers before making decisions.

Laissez-faire leadership is appropriate if a leader wishes to offer group members the most freedom possible to make decisions

A leader need not, however, stick to just one style of leadership. Leadership style may change depending on the particular situation.

A leader should choose the leadership style that best suits the environment of the organization, the tasks at hand, and the personalities of the subordinates engaged if they want to exercise effective leadership.

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