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Management Styles- Autocratic vs Democratic vs Laissez-Faire

Updated on September 6, 2016


The success of a business is relative to the performance and effectiveness of the managers and/or manager. Managers perform many functions and fulfill many roles in a business. They are responsible for reacting and making decisions during different situations. The manner in which they handle these situations will define their style of management. There are three main managerial styles that are used by managers and leaders all over the world. These styles are; autocratic management style, democratic management style, and laissez-faire management style. Often one manager will adapt his style in relation to the circumstances. Other managers tend to choose one style and apply the concepts of this style in all situations. Both of these approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages. (, 2016)

Autocratic Management

An autocratic management style is when the manager dictates orders to his/her employees. This style of management is a directive one. They are given this authority by virtue of experience, position and personality. They expect employees to follow their instructions without any discussion or argument. An autocratic manager controls the actions of the team and staff as well as closely monitoring them. It is not unusual for this type of manager to clamp down hard on errors and mistakes. This style of management is best used during situations wherein control is a priority. A good example is in the military. The hierarchy structure of the military entails that lower level troops obey and carry out senior member’s commands. This is necessary as there is usually no margin for error and strict rules are preferable in dangerous circumstances. This type of management is best applied in the military, manufacturing and construction sectors. (, 2016)


There is a common misconception that this style of management is oppressive and not suited for modern times. This is the wrong mind-set. This style can be quite rewarding when implemented in the correct manner. It is important to consider certain factors to gain rewards from this management style. Managers need to respect their employees. It is easy to get caught up in constant enforcement of rules that a manager will forget that he/she must consider the feelings of the employees. Their needs to be a mutual respect among the two parties. Employees respond better if the rules are commands are explained to them. It helps them understand the reason for their job. Managers should maintain consistency in all situations when enforcing the rules. They should stay away from favoring certain employees. Sometimes a manager should listen to the opinions of the employees even if they do not end up enforcing these views. (, 2016)

Employee attitude

The staff perceive different managers in relation to their style of management. Unskilled and uneducated staff often take kindly and respect an autocratic manager as they feel that they are learning from the experience of the manager. Skilled and educated staff members tend to grow resentful to this style of leadership as they do not like to be handed commands and orders. Most of the time the staff will become demotivated and lose the morale to work due to this style. In some cases, the staff have immense respect for an autocratic manager if he/she is fair and objective. (, 2016)

Democratic Management Style

A democratic style of management is an open-minded approach to management wherein all the members of a business have a say/opinion in the decisions made by the manager or business. This style of management is a supportive as well as collaborative one. Employees are given the opportunity to relate their ideas in a free environment. This style is best used in dynamic environment where there is constant flow of new information. The business needs to adapt to satisfy all cultures, religions etc. and the opinions of staff members help this process. A democratic manager must oversee the conversation, encourage employees to discuss and compile all this information into the best possible decision. Additionally, a manager must relate the final decision to the staff to ensure everybody is on board with it. (, 2016)


This style can be highly effective when implemented in the correct manner and situation. Managers and business best suited to this style is comprised of creative staff members. The best sectors that this style can be implemented is in the consulting, services and education sectors. A democratic manager needs ensure that certain factors are upheld for this style to succeed. They must keep an open environment for communication that is not judge mental. The conversation must remain related to the topic. A manager must respect the employee’s opinions and explain to them why an alternative has been chosen as opposed to their ideas. (, 2016)

Employee Attitude

The general opinion among the staff seems to favour this style of management. They are encouraged by their opinions being heard. This increases their morale and work ethic as well. The staff feel respected and are given the opportunity to develop their personal skills by hearing the opinions of others. In some cases, staff members may grow frustrated if their opinion is always disregarded. Frustration may also arise among impatient employees if the group fails to reach decisions constantly. (, 2016)

Laissez-Faire Management Style

The laissez-faire style of management is probably the simplest and riskiest approach. There is a passive approach towards this style of management. It is a hands-off approach that allows employees and team members to make and carry out decisions. The statistics indicate that this style leads to the lowest productivity within the business and among employees. This due to the fact that it should only be implemented in a very specific, niche environment that consists of employees with the right personalities that fit this style. Managers do not get involved in any decision or production processes. They supply members with the resources and then separate themselves, thus giving employees a ‘free roam’ environment. This style is only effective in a business wherein employees are highly educated, self-motivated, passionate, driven, and maintain a high work ethic. A good example is Google, certain sectors of this large organization implement this style at it has proven to be highly productive as employees are striving to achieve goals that they set for themselves. (Verywell, 2016)

Employee Attitude

The staff members usually welcome this style of management, as they are not continuously monitored and reviewed by managers. Lazy staff members particularly enjoy this style as they still get paid while the manager takes responsibility if a task is incomplete. Motivated staff, respond well and achieve good results as they have the room and space to work on their own without monitoring. Certain staff members may grow frustrated as they feel that they are not receiving guidance from their managers and this decreases their morale. (, 2016)

Advantages and Disadvantages

Each of the above leadership styles has its’ own advantages and disadvantages. For example, a democratic style is quite time consuming due to the contribution of all members before a decision can be made, whereas an autocratic style is punctual and quick due to the fact that only one person needs to make a decision. In this way, a democratic style would be disastrous if it was implemented in the military which relies on a quick decision making process. The laissez-faire style has its’ disadvantages as well. Members often feel that if the manager is not working then why should they and this leads to deadlines not being met. (, 2016)


In conclusion, the three management styles are all necessary in business but in different situations. A manager needs to be adaptable towards the circumstances and identify which style is required. The other option is for a manager to strictly follow one style of management which ensures that employees appreciate the consistency. It is crucial for a business to have managers that can implement any one of these styles at a given moment. This is due to each style being suited for different environments and situations.


  1. (2016). Management Styles. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2016].
  2. Verywell. (2016). How Does Laissez-Faire Leadership Work? [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2016].
  3. (2016). Leadership Styles: Autocratic Leadership. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2016].
  4. (2016). The Democratic Leadership Style. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2016].
  5. (2016). MANAGEMENT STYLES | Managerial Skills. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2016].

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© 2016 Yaseen Essack


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