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Leadership Philosophies: Types & Examples

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  • 0:03 Leadership Philosophies
  • 2:11 Other Leadership Approaches
  • 3:45 The Best Leadership Philosophy
  • 4:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lucinda Stanley

Lucinda has taught business and information technology and has a PhD in Education.

In this lesson, you will learn about three basic leadership styles, some specific leadership approaches, and the leadership philosophy that is the best for a given situation.

Leadership Philosophies

'We are all going to wear orange on Friday.'

'Friday is Save the Whales Day, and I would like us all to wear orange in support of this great cause.'

Which of these leadership approaches do you practice? Which would you prefer to hear from a supervisor? Leadership philosophies are based on what individuals value and what they expect from their subordinates and constituents. The personalities of the leaders, as well as the situations and types of followers, can also affect leadership philosophies. There are a variety of leadership philosophies. However, the most commonly recognized styles are authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire. Let's look at each of these in more detail.

Authoritarian leaders, also known as autocratic leaders, make decisions without input from their subordinates. They are highly-disciplined and have a clear view of where they, and their constituents, are headed. They often tell their subordinates what to do and how to do it without an explanation. Sometimes this is necessary, particularly in restaurants, manufacturing, or military situations. An authoritarian leader is the type of leader who would say something like 'We are all going to wear orange on Friday.'

Democratic leaders, also known as participative leaders, seek out input from their subordinates. They consider meeting the goals of the organization to be a collaborative effort from all participants. They have a clear vision of where everyone should be and incorporate the ideas of their subordinates to make that vision happen. A democratic leader is the type of leader who might say something like 'Friday is Save the Whales Day, and I would like us all to wear orange in support of this great cause.'

Laissez-faire leaders, also known as delegative leaders, consider their subordinates to be fully capable of doing their jobs without direction and allow a high degree of autonomy on the part of their subordinates. Laissez-faire leaders work to build a strong team and let the team do their jobs. This style of leadership is most often found in areas where there is a high degree of creativity, such as advertising agencies or businesses with a large amount of research and development. Social media work places are often led by a laissez-faire leader.

Other Leadership Approaches

Within these three basic leadership philosophies are approaches to leadership that are more specific:

The servant leader makes service to others as a priority. It is predominantly a democratic leadership philosophy and is often found in situations where the leader is elected by constituents. A servant leader includes constituents in the decision-making process.

The charismatic leader often exhibits an authoritarian leadership style. He or she leads through the power of their personality. The charismatic leader can excite constituents and move quickly to enact an organization's vision.

The transformational leader often follows a laissez-faire leadership philosophy. Transformational leaders expect everyone on the team to give more than 100% to meet a goal and are generally looking to make big changes.

The situational leader uses a leadership philosophy that changes with the current state of an organization. When an authoritarian leadership style is needed, situational leaders fill that role. When a more laissez-faire approach will work, that is the leadership style they use. Often, they are using different leadership styles at the same time depending on the specific situation they find themselves in at any given moment.

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