Leadership Styles


An effective leader recognizes that there are variations in leadership styles. The three basic styles are autocratic, free rein, and democratic. Autocratic leaders make decisions on their own, without consulting others. Democratic leaders involve their subordinates in making decisions. Free-rein leaders believe in minimal supervision, leaving most decisions to their subordinates.

The best leadership style is one that varies with the circumstances, changing according to three elements: the leader, the followers, and the situation. Some leaders are simply unable to encourage or even allow subordinates to participate in decision making. And some followers do not have the ability or the desire to assume such responsibility. Furthermore, the particular situation helps determine which style will be most effective. Problem requiring immediate solutions may have to be handled without consulting subordinates. With less time pressure, participative decision making may be desirable.

A democratic leader may be forced by circumstance to be autocratic in making a particular decision. Managers are increasingly moving toward a more democratic style of leadership. They find that workers involved in decision making tend to be more interested in the overall organization and may be more motivated to contribute to organizational objectives that those not involved in decision making.

No single best style of leadership exists. The most effective leadership style depends on the power held by the leader, the difficulty of the tasks involved, and the characteristics of the workers. Extremely easy and extremely difficult situations are best handled by leaders who emphasize task accomplishment. Moderately different situations are handled by leaders who emphasize participation and good working relations with subordinates.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.