When applying for an administrative or managerial position you may often wonder what kind of leader you are. There are several ways to categorise different types of leadership, namely autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire and paternalistic. Each has their own advantages and drawbacks which could influence the method of leadership you choose to follow. In this blog, we will take a look at each different style of leadership and help you answer the question, what kind of team leader are you?
An autocratic leader is someone that sees themselves as the sole decision maker and generally doesn’t use the input of others to influence or make a decision. They will simply hand out tasks to their staff and assign staff members jobs, taking full responsibility.
Autocratic leadership is usually seen as a negative way of managing employees as an autocratic leader tends to ignore their employees opinions and isn’t interested in them weighing in on decisions. It also relies on close supervision to ensure staff follow the decisions the autocrat has made and doesn’t allow any margin for error.
This type of leadership comes with the obvious negative effect of not making staff feel important or responsible for any business decisions. This can be very off putting as employees tend to like being involved and valued in the business.
However, autocratic leadership does make decision making much quicker as there’s no need to do a vote or hold meetings to decide on an outcome. This could be important for fast paced working environments where choices have to be made as quickly as possible.
As an almost polar opposite to an autocratic leader, a democratic leader makes almost no sole decisions and relies entirely on a system of voting in order to make choices. They will host meetings, surveys or just ask employees for their thoughts and opinions and make a fair decisions based upon the interest of everyone in the business.
Democratic leadership is seen to be much more progressive and modern than the autocratic counterpart as people in general have become more inclusive in decision making and like to gain an increased sense of responsibility.
This type of leadership comes with plenty of positive effects, including increased employee happiness as many enjoy responsibility. It can also often lead to the most effective solution as it involves the combined knowledge of plenty of staff rather than one person.
However, this does have the drawback of taking much longer to come to decisions and the final verdict may not be the best as employees aren’t trained in the running of a business.
This style of leadership is exactly that, paternal. This means the leader takes the position of parent and, although they will listen to the thoughts and opinions of their ‘family’, they will make the final decision. They will often listen to their employees and make sure their opinion is heard and considered when making business choices.
This is somewhat between autocratic and democratic. Although the leader will make the final decision like an autocrat, they will listen to their employees much like a democratic leader. A paternalistic leader will rely on positive reinforcement and an all round happy atmosphere to corral trust and hard work within the workplace.
Due to being between the aforementioned leadership styles, paternalistic leadership mitigates most of the drawbacks and advantages mentioned. Autocratic leadership had the drawback of uninvolved employees which is not an issue with this leadership method. Democratic had the issue of inexperienced members of staff potentially having too much bearing on key business decisions. This again is solved by paternalistic leaders as they make the final overruling decision.
However, it can be difficult to get paternalism right as you need to ensure not to lean to far either way and get the balance perfect.
Finally, we’ll take a look at the laissez-faire method of leadership. This French term meaning ‘leave alone’ is usually used to describe the type of leader that makes almost no decisions and simply lets their staff make their own choices.
This type of leadership relies very heavily on having experienced members off staff that know their role inside out and also have the ability to make effective decisions for the business as a whole. This is because the leader is entirely passive and leaves all decisions to the staff.
This has the obvious disadvantage of an essential lack of leadership. This can lead to a state of disarray as there will be almost no central point of organisation.
However, a laissez-faire approach to leadership may mean that employees work harder, as they are much more integral to the success of the business. They need to succeed, in order for the business to succeed.
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