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Leadership Styles: Which One Are You?

Updated on December 23, 2017

The success and failure of companies and organizations can often be traced to leadership. Leadership directly impacts the performance of management and their employees. It’s that trickledown effect that will ultimately determine the success of your organization. There are several specific leadership styles that executives and managers utilize to get the most out of their employees. The most widely discussed leadership styles are the democratic style, authoritarian (micro management), and delegative.


Leadership Styles


The democratic form of leadership is typically regarded as an effective form of leadership. Democratic leadership is often referred to as a “participative” style of leadership. This style of leadership encourages the participation of employees in the decision making process. Organizational decsisions are often made on a “majority rules’ basis.


1. Increased Self Esteem and Confidence- This form of leadership involves the employees and they feel like they are playing a key role in the growth of the organization.

2. Increased Employee Morale- The democratic process is also associated with higher employee morale, as they feel that their voices are being heard by management.

3. Better Communication- This leadership style also fosters more open communication between employees and management. Employees feel more comfortable sharing new ideas without the fear of their thoughts being shot down by management.


1. Majority Rules -A majority rules mentality is not always the smartest decision. The majority of employees may agree on a decision that is not necessarily the best for business. For example, I wouldn’t recommend using a majority rules when it comes to employee pay raises.

2. Added Confusion- Sometimes too many voices and opinions can cause confusion. Ultimately, those who have a clear understanding of the business implications should have the authority to make the final decisions.

3. Too Much Information – Sometimes employees have too much company information. Employers have to be careful not to disclose too many trade secrets while maintaining an inclusive environment. It’s important that managers find a way to encourage employee participation without revealing too much information.


Authoritarian (Micro-Management) - This style of leadership basically allows the manager to have (or attempt to have) complete control over the work environment. Some may separate Authoritarian from Micro-management but I put them in the same group because they essentially use the same methods. Authoritarian leadership is also referred to “Autocratic” leadership. Authoritarian leadership places all of the decision making power in the hands of the manager or designated leader. An authoritarian leader typically creates an environment of strict rules and very little flexibility.


1. Complete Control- Supervisors have control over the entire decision making. This approach insures that company decisions are implemented exactly as they intended.

2. More “Hands On” Supervision- More direct supervision and training by the supervisor can be beneficial to new employees or those who have less expertise when it comes to specific job tasks. This approach to leadership may also be most appropriate if major changes need to be made due to employee incompetence or negative public exposure.

3. Quick Decision Making- Decisions are made more quickly due to the lack of employee input. Certain situations dictate that quick decisions be made and an authorization approach is the most appropriate.


1. Limited Participation- Authoritarian leadership does not foster an environment where employees are allowed to participate in any decision making discussions. All decisions are made from management without employee input.

2. Low Employee Morale- This type of leadership is usually associated with low employee morale. Employees often feel that their voices and opinions are not heard. They may also feel that they don’t have the trust of management due to the constant supervision and rigid environment.

Low morale usually leads to low performance and high turnover. Employees can’t perform well when they are constantly looking over their shoulder in fear of management.

3. Limited Creativity- This leadership style tends to stifle employee creativity. Employees may be less likely to express any new ideas if they feel that management won’t listen.


Delegative- The delegative leadership style allows employees to have more freedom to work as they please with little to no guidance. This style of leadership is often referred to as a “Laissez-Faire” leadership style. Decisions are left to the employees while management provides limited supervision. The term Laisssez-fair is a French term that essentially means to “allow to pass” or let go. Employees trust that employees can complete job tasks on their own without a manager constantly watching over them.


1. Employee Convenience- Employees enjoy this style of management because it allows them to work at their own pace and accomplish job tasks without pressure.

2. Increased Morale- A delegative work environment is also associated with higher employee morale. Employees that are highly skilled and experience enjoy this form of management because it allows them to be more creative in completing job tasks.

3. Less Direct Supervision- Supervisors spend less time hovering over employees to make sure they get their work done. Instead, they delegate responsibility to employees which frees up time for other duties required by supervisors. Of course, this is only a benefit if you have a professional staff that can handle limited supervision.


1. Less Production- Less supervision has its drawbacks. Employees with less discipline will use this opportunity to slack off or not work as hard as they would with a more hands on supervisor.

2. Reduction in the Quality of Work- This not the best form of leadership when there are several new or less trained employees. The lack of hands on assistance can result in work that is poor quality or done incorrectly.

3. Loss of Control- A delegative form of leadership naturally reduces some of the control a supervisor or manager has over the work environment. Managers have to trust that their employees can work with limited supervision. This form of leadership can be disastrous with the wrong employees. Employees that are not dedicated can take advantage of this type of work environment.

There is really no right or wrong form of leadership. The key to being an effective leader is to understand your specific situation. There will be some situations that are appropriate for each one of these leadership approaches regardless of your type of organization. There will be times where highly educated and skilled employees may need more direct supervision. There will also be times when a democratic approach ends up being the wrong approach even if makes everyone happy. Leadership can be complex balance between having satisfied employees and having a thriving business or organization.

Which type of leader are you?

See results

© 2014 Martin D Gardner


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