Leadership could mean the ability to inspire, motivate, or guide a group of individuals to perform in pursuit of a common objective. Interestingly, the concept of leadership is an age-old theory that existed long before biblical times. Nonetheless, it was not until late in the 18th century that the term started to feature in discussions. For ages, debates have lingered about whether leaders are born or made. Both notions are true because some are indeed born leaders while others become leaders by learning. Leadership is an interesting trait worth examining, as it is not a one-size-fits-all. The plausible styles of leadership include authoritarian, democratic, and delegative leadership. A review of the mentioned leadership styles aims to provide insights worth knowing about each approach.
Authoritarian (Autocratic) leadership
Authoritarian leadership is a style of management with a team of followers and a designated leader who provides them with guidance. The leader wields all powers and issues directives unopposed. Subsequently, followers take directives and perform to the expectations of the leader. Essentially, an authoritarian approach to leadership bestows all authority on one individual who directs the team members. The approach does not grant followers the capacity to offer input since the leader is the sole authority. The authoritarian style can be effective in circumstances such as time-constrained situations, a crisis, or situations with inexperienced team members. Usually, such situations have little room for mistakes; therefore, the input of an expert may be the only suitable contribution to turn around an organization or achieve objectives. This is why autocratic leadership is common, where the leader is the most experienced individual. Thus, the leader bears the sole responsibility for outcomes associated with their actions because this approach places all responsibility on the designated leader. As such, leaders will supervise team members to minimize mistakes and improve outcomes. However, it is also important to observe that an authoritarian approach could create problems supposing the leader is inexperienced. The team members may be forced to obey wrong choices made by an inexperienced leader, leading to more trouble.
Democratic or participative leadership
As the name suggests, a democratic or participative approach is a management approach where the team members and their leader participate in the leadership process. Essentially, this approach extends leadership to the team members, or every member gets an opportunity to voice their opinions about various issues or courses of action. The leader acts as a facilitator, allowing team members to offer suggestions about decisions. This approach integrates team members into management, ultimately increasing their motivation and commitment to the team. Even though the leader welcomes the participation of team members, they retain control regarding the final course of action. Therefore, the final decision regarding issues rests with the leader even as team members offer contributions. The participative approach acknowledges and values members’ contributions regarding responsibilities or decisions. Hence, all members have an equal opportunity to make contributions regarding procedures. As a result, members have a sort of shared accountability concerning the outcomes of the course of action undertaken by the leader. The qualities mentioned above make the democratic approach very effective and arguably the most productive.
Delegative leadership (Laissez Faire)
The delegation approach is a unique leadership style where the management adopts a laidback approach to leadership. Leaders adopting laissez-faire are laidback or detached. They give responsibilities and offer general instructions but remain detached from the group’s actions. They hardly supervise team members, leaving critical decisions in their control. Under this approach, managers equip team members with the means to complete a project and ultimately assume accountability for the results of the actions of team members. The extent of autonomy granted to team members under this leadership style makes it highly suitable for skilled workers or creative people. Therefore, laissez-faire leadership could better suit jobs requiring workers’ independence or creativity. These include careers such as journalism, web development, and creative writing, among others. Allowing independence and creativity in the jobs mentioned above encourages innovativeness among workers, which is important in such careers. However, the delegation approach can be counterproductive in careers outside the creative industry. Delegative leadership can be a hindrance outside the creative industry by encouraging independence, leading to less efficiency.
In summation, the above discussion sheds light on some styles of leadership adopted by leaders, including authoritarian, democratic or participative, and delegative (Laissez-faire). Authoritarian leadership characterizes a central leader who offers fixed directives to team members under their authority. The democratic approach characterizes the involvement of team members in the development of directives by the leader, who ultimately makes the final decision. Lastly, the delegative approach of leadership characterizes a noninterventionist approach where team members have the freedom to develop directives. However, the leader takes accountability for the results of team members’ actions.