Leadership Styles

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20 January, 2023

Leadership refers to the action of leading a group of people or an organization. Leadership style is a leadership attitude that involves leading, articulating, and leading a team (Billig, 2015). Leadership style is a strategic element towards the victory or disaster of each institute, and it is the behavioral approach of the leaders to provide motivation and direction to their individuals (Allafchi, 2017). In this article, the author briefly summarizes three leadership styles that are commonly used, such as democratic, autocratic, and laissez-faire (Lewin, Lippitt, and White, 1939).
Democratic Leadership

Democratic leadership is also called participative or shared leadership. A historical study that influenced democratic leadership was the research of Kurt Lewin in the 1930s. He distinguished levels of involvement that may affect motivating subordinates (Billig, 2015). Three key characteristics of democratic leadership include: (a) all members are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas, even if the leader keeps the final say on the decision; (b) all members feel more involved in the process; and (c) creativity is encouraged and rewarded (Khoshhal and Guraya, 2016). Democratic leaders force staff to feel they can be an integral part of a group that helps foster adoptive willingness for organizational purposes. Individuals have the chance to share and exchange ideas freely (Fiaz, Su, and Saqib, 2017).
Autocratic Leadership

In 1975, McGregor stated autocratic leadership is a leadership style illustrated by a single control over all activities from leadership and requires contribution from the followers. The application of this leadership style is in McGregor’s theory (X and Y theories). Theory X is that an average worker does not want to work and will avoid work if he can. The leaders force their followers to work using threats and punishment. Also, Theory Y states that, for the most part, the staff is not lazy, but they love to work and seek responsibility. In Theory Y, most followers are creative and imaginative. The followers do not show concern in their workplace if leaders provide a suitable working environment (Gannon and Boguszak, 2013). 

Laissez-faire leadership style is good in large organizations with highly skilled supporters. It is beneficial in involving the capabilities of supporters, and it provides supporters with freedom, allowing them to make their own decisions (Diebig and Bormann, 2020). Supporters have frequently shared ideas and decisions about what they have responded to. However, the final decision stays with the leaders. Leaders do not participate in or comment on staff activities unless questioned. Leaders show little participation from supporters. Supporters who are under the leadership of laissez-faire are usually highly skilled and do not need supervision (Houlihan, 2020).

Each leadership style is essential for leaders. The most important thing for leaders is to apply each leadership style in the right circumstances. When the subordinates have poor skills, the leader should apply autocracy; when they have fair skills, the leader should apply democracy; and, most importantly, when they are highly skilled, the leader can use laissez-faire. Hence, leaders need to be flexible and adaptable to deal with challenges by using various leadership styles effectively.

Sopheng Tep
Deputy Director

Department of Cultural Training


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