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.
'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.
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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.
The innovative leader often uses a laissez-faire leadership style. The innovative leader encourages free expression of ideas and is able to see the whole picture.
The continuous improvement leadership philosophy can be any one of the basic leadership philosophies. The goal of continuous improvement leaders, whether though an authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-faire approach, is to improve the outcomes in every situation.
The Best Leadership Philosophy
Which one leadership philosophy is best? That is the million-dollar question! Each of these leadership styles has their place. Generally, the more capable the followers, the less authoritarian the leader needs to be. But in the end, it may all depend on the situation. If a decision needs to be made quickly, even a laissez-faire leader may take on an autocratic approach in order to get things done.
In this lesson, you learned that the three basic leadership styles or philosophies are authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire. Authoritarian leaders make decisions without input from their subordinates. Democratic leaders seek out input from their subordinates. Laissez-faire leaders consider their subordinates to be fully capable of doing their jobs without direction and allow a high degree of autonomy. Additional leadership philosophies can include servant, charismatic, transformational, situational, innovative, and continuous improvement approaches. No one leadership style is the best, and each situation requires a specific type of leader. The best leaders are those who can adapt to situations and use the leadership philosophy that is appropriate to the situation.
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