Ultimately, the successes of a business may ride on the successes and failures of the leaders – among a number of other factors, obviously. There's no all-purpose attitude to leading staff that'll be successful for all leaders in every instance, so based on a variety of issues, which might include a business' goals, its worker skill-level and the industry it's in, one type of leadership style might operate more productively than another.
There are 3 main types of leadership styles, categorised by psychologist Kurt Lewin. They are autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire leadership. Below we define what they are, their pros and cons, and when they are perhaps best implemented in the corporate world.
Autocratic leadership (a.k.a. authoritarian leadership) gives all control to the leaders, meaning that they are fully in charge of making the decisions. Therefore the leaders instruct the staff with the information on what needs to be done, whose recommendations might be shunned or simply ignored.
Pros: This particular type of leadership style works well in industries and companies where quick decision-making is key, where there is no time to consult with the staff for their involvement anyway. It is also effective on members of staff who mightn't hold the skills or the knowhow to look after their own individual workloads.
Cons: Employees might feel ignored and unimportant, which may affect motivation and employee satisfaction. Creativity could also be negatively affected, as employees are not given any room to be innovative.
Best used: When getting the job done in a particular way is much more important than creativity and staff participation.
Democratic leadership (also known as participative leadership) is a style of leadership that grants some decision-making powers to the group, insofar as they're consulted and asked for their opinions by those in charge. In the end however, the leaders still have the overall decision-making powers.
Pros: Team members should feel more wanted, with the additional responsibility and the fact that their insights matter. This in turn will lead to a greater level of motivation.
Cons: With more people involved, decisions may take longer to implement. This might be ok when things can take time, but become more of an issue when decisions must be made in a rush.
Best used: When stuff doesn't need to get done straight away and creativity and innovation are essential factors.
Laissez-faire leadership (also known as delegative leadership) is a fairly relaxed leadership style, granting full decision-making control to the workers. It's pretty much up to them to sort out their workload, while the managers neither get in the way nor closely monitor what it is they're up to.
Pros: Staff will feel rather important with the high levels of responsibility, as they'll be given independence in what they do.
Cons: If the laissez-faire leadership style is used on someone who's not very good at managing their own work then productivity might crash. Also, there is the issue that the leadership team will appear to be lazy and that they do not want to be involved in the goings-on of the workplace.
Best used: When staff members are responsible enough to keep on top of their work, plus when their independence is a positive and beneficial factor, instead of them being told what they can and cannot do.