The Use of Authority – Defining Leadership Style

By: Kyla Slen, VP of Operations

When it comes to the workplace, the manager may not be the only person in a leadership role. A leader can be anyone with significant talent, experience, and capability to rise above and lead based on his or her strengths, not just a position or title. Managers will allow different leaders to come forward and inspire the rest of the employees to advance to the next level. However, different situations call for different leadership styles. This is important to keep in mind as some styles may not be as efficient or effective as others, depending on the circumstances.

While there are several variations of different leadership styles, they stem from three basic approaches: Authoritarian, Laissez-faire, and Participative. As mentioned before, each of these leadership styles may be effective depending on the situation. A true leader will be able to recognize when to use each style in order to drive the best results.

Authoritarian Leadership

Those who receive a high score from the ECBD assessment.

The authoritarian leadership style, also referred to as autocratic leadership, is a style in which the leader ultimately exerts all the power. Autocratic leaders take individual control over any decisions with little or no input from others. These leaders tell others what to do, how to do it, and when it should be done. Though it’s not optimal, this leadership technique can be beneficial when necessary. For example, it is beneficial when the team needs direction, a course correction, when deadlines are tight, or when decisions need to be made quickly. This is especially true when a lot of people are involved in the project and there is little or no time for everyone to discuss the matter and try to come to an agreement.

Some projects and situations require strong leadership in order to get things accomplished effectively and on time. While this leadership style can be effective at times, for the most part is it is not favored by great leaders, and can be problematic. Many times this leadership style can make the leader come off as bossy, controlling, dictatorial, or even abusive. It causes people to feel bullied or resentful, which can hinder the way the team operates as a whole. This leadership style also will not work well if the rest of the group is as experienced or more knowledgeable than the leader.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Those who receive a low score from the ECBD assessment.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the laissez-faire leadership style, which is more of a hands-off approach. A laissez-faire leader may or may not provide others with the proper tools and resources needed, and then backs off, giving little guidance and direction, allowing members to have the freedom to make decisions. This leadership approach can be effective when the group members possess discipline, the ability to set goals, hold themselves and others accountable, and remain motivated and capable of working on their own.

This style is not ideal in most situations, especially if the group does not have natural abilities, the proper experience, or knowledge needed to complete the tasks or make decisions. Some people are just not as good at setting their own deadlines or managing their own projects as others defined by discipline. Some people in the group may also lack the motivation needed to get certain tasks done on time and without that extra push from the leader, and as a result deadlines may be missed.

Participative Leadership

Those who are in the effective range of the ECBD assessment.

The participative leadership style individuals provide structure and direction.These leaders take control when the situation requires them to do so.A participative leader allows others to contribute to the decision-making process, allowing them to give their input and share their ideas. However, the leader ultimately has the final say when the situations require them to lead. This leadership style also boosts employees’ morale because their creativity is encouraged and rewarded, and they are able to contribute in the decision-making process, which can make them feel more valued and important to the company. This leadership approach is effective and beneficial as it helps employees feel more involved and committed to their work and projects, which can make them more motivated to go above and beyond. It will also lead to higher productivity among employees.

This leadership style is the most effective, but it does have some potential downsides. For example, in some instances, group members may not have the necessary knowledge or expertise to make a quality decision or contribution to the decision-making process. This is the most favorable type of leadership style. This approach works best when group members are skilled, have experience, and are able to operate with structure and direction in a consistent manner.

Evaluate the Circumstances

One important thing to remember, however, is that it is best to utilize different aspects of different styles depending on the current situation at hand rather than sticking to just one leadership style all the time. The best leaders will be able to evaluate the situation, the employees and their capabilities, and apply whichever leadership style will work best with the given circumstances.

Note: Scores and profiles reference in this article refer to characteristics defined in the EurekaConnect Behavioral Dynamics program