The Leadership Style Analysis

The Leadership Style Analysis 2min read

Styles are tailor made to different situations. Different leaders must have their own styles and these styles must be able to adapt to different people and situations. – John Ng

You need to find your own style of leadership, one that complements your character. That being said, a good leader use all three styles depending on the dynamics.

Leadership Styles

The father of leadership literature is arguably the psychologist Kurt Lewin. Who in 1939, following his research proposed 3 styles of leadership[1]:

  1. The Authoritarian (Autocratic) Leader
  2. The Participator (Democratic) Leader
  3. The Delegator (Laissez-faire) Leader

The Authoritarian Leader rules by herself. She provides clear expectations on output, when it needs to be completed and how to complete it. She creates vision and direction, then convinces people to follow. Autocratic styles result in a clear division between leaders and workers.

The Participator Leader is all about majority rule. She encourages group members to participate, offers guidance but retains final say over the decision making. She spends time building consensus amongst the group and with that drives the direction.

The Delegator Leader allows a high level of autonomy. She offers little to no guidance to the group and leaves decision making to the members. She spends time building up individuals to make there own decisions. note: Laissez-faire (or lais·ser faire) is French for the noninterference in the affairs of others[2].

The Kurt Lewin study discovered[3] that members of Authoritarian leadership are the most productive. Members of Participator leadership, while being less productive produce better quality work. And members of Delegator leadership often lack motivation and have poorly defined roles, meaning it needs to be used wisely.

Like most things in life, it isn't healthy to live at the extreme. You need to have balance. I belive it is also true for leadership styles. Living at the extreme of one style isn't productive for you or the group. Your default style should be somewhere in the intersection of the three, however you need to be able to goto one of the extremes if the dynamics require it.

When to Use

The Autocratic Leadership style is best used when the group -- or individual -- lack knowledge[4]. Such as when they are new or just learning the role and the leader is competent and a good coach.

The Participator Leadership style is best used when the team knows their roles and when the leader is not expected to have all the answers. The group clearly understand thier objectives, roles and have the skills required for the task.

The Delegator Leadership style is best used when number of members out grows the supervision an individual can provide. And the individuals are self motivated with a high work ethic.

Small business typically start with the Autocratic, move onto Participator and if the owner can let go, transition to the Delegator style. Much like raising children.

  1. Authoritarian, Democratic & Laissez-Faire Leadership ↩︎
  2. Dictionary: laissez-faire ↩︎
  3. Definition of Leadership. Kurt Lewin & Belbin ↩︎
  4. Leadership Styles ↩︎

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