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Three Styles of Leadership: Pros and Cons

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Three Styles of Leadership: Pros and Cons

Three Styles of Leadership: Pros and Cons 2

Leadership is a topic that has been researched, discussed, debated and studied for many years. Much time has been spent on defining what the styles of leadership are, which are most effective in motivating people and why. These styles range from leadership with very few controls (free-reign) to very controlling leadership (micro-managing) and each of these have their own set of pros and cons. In 1939, social scientist Kurt Lewin applied his theories to organizational development and identified three leadership styles: authoritarian, participative/democratic and laissez-faire. Each style has its own pros and cons. (Cutajar, 2011) By becoming familiar with each of these styles, a manager will learn what each style of leadership to apply in each situation in order to produce the best overall outcome and reduce job-related stress.

The authoritarian (or autocratic) style of leadership is one in which the individual leads by control. It is often viewed as overly demanding. In the journal article, (W.C. Howard, 2005) "Leadership: Four Styles", Mr. Howard assigns types to styles of leadership. He defines this style as Type-D (Control/Power Based). A few of the characteristics he uses to describe this style of leading are controlled, detailed, and organized, which could be seen as "pros" of this style. However, this leader feels that there is "power" in his position and employees are expected to "obey his orders." Decisions are made based on the way this leader wants this accomplished. It is a "my way or the highway" approach and offers no input from the team as to how a project will be accomplished. This style is similar to a dictatorship, which can often lead to resentment. Authoritarian leaders often create a stressful work environment since team members are not offered the option of providing any feedback. By not devoting time for discussion, the leader may miss out on valuable input from other team members. In emergency situations where there is not time to discuss, debate or have lengthy conversations, this style of


leadership may work well especially in military, manufacturing or construction jobs. The downside to this style is this can cause low morale, decreased productivity, absenteeism and high rates of turnover.

The second style of leadership is democratic (or participative). And this style means just that, it involves participation from the leader and the team. The leader includes one or more employees in decision making - both the leader and team members get an equal vote. By giving employees an equal voice in the decision making process, this makes the team members feel more committed to the outcome of the final project. By allowing several others to provide feedback this leads to higher productivity, which leads to increased motivation and increased morale. Characteristics of this style of leadership include individuals who tend to be self- motivated, self-directed and who can accept responsibility. In order for this style to work, it is best to use with a team of knowledgeable employees and employees who have some expertise. This approach will take



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