Leadership is the process of motivating a group of people to act towards accomplishing a common task. There are number of recognized versions, or styles, of leadership, some of which have been shown to be more effective than others. In 1939, a group of researchers led by German-American psychologist Kurt Lewin identified three major leadership styles: authoritarian or autocratic; participative ...
Leadership is the process of motivating a group of people to act towards accomplishing a common task. There are number of recognized versions, or styles, of leadership, some of which have been shown to be more effective than others. In 1939, a group of researchers led by German-American psychologist Kurt Lewin identified three major leadership styles: authoritarian or autocratic; participative or democratic; and delegative. Good leaders may well adopt some element of all of the styles of leadership.
Autocratic leaders seek to have the most authority in decision-making and provide the rest of the group with clear expectations regarding what needs to be done and how it should be done. They try to make as many decisions as possible and consultation is minimal. This leadership style is effective on short-term projects or in environments where employees are poorly motivated or need to perform low-skilled tasks.
This leadership style offers some benefits to managers who use it. It reduces their stress levels as they know they have full control and it also improves the working speed of poorly motivated employees, who know they are being watched by a leader. One of the main disadvantages of this style is that by making all the decisions, the leader doesn't give the other members of the group the opportunity to start their leadership development. By taking all responsibility, the leader works at full capacity, which can lead to health problems and poor working relationships with colleagues.
Participative or democratic leadership style is generally seen to be the most effective. Democratic leaders offer guidance to group members and participate in the group. Democratic leadership promotes sharing of responsibility and continual consultation. The leader delegates tasks to each member of the group and gives full control over them. Democratic leaders encourage others to get involved in leadership development.
This leadership style has many benefits. Employees that are given responsibility tend to become more enthusiastic about their work and are involved more in the accomplishment of their task. Consulting the other members of the group and giving and receiving feedback results in better decision making and creative thinking. But consulting over every decision can be time-consuming and can cause opportunities to be missed.
Delegative leadership style gives little or no guidance to group members, but allows them to make the decisions. This style can be effective in situations where group members are highly qualified or when the leader trusts them. However, it can lead to poorly defined roles within the group and a lack of motivation.
Over time, many other leadership theories have been developed. Most can be classified as one of the eight major types.