4 Basic leadership Styles

governor giving a speech

Autocratic, Bureaucratic, Democratic, Laissez-faire

Autocratic Leadership

Here the leaders retains power and decision-making authority. They do not consult employees and employees are not allowed to give any input. Employees are expected to obey without any explanations provided. Motivation is produced by rewards and punishments.

Autocratic leaders

•    rely on threats and punishment to influence

•    do not trust employees and  they do not allow for input

Situations where autocratic leadership can be used include:

•    new, untrained employees  who do not know which tasks to perform or which procedures to follow

•    effective supervision through detailed orders and instructions

•    employees do not respond to any other leadership style

•    high-volume production needs on daily basis

•    limited time to make decision

•    manager’s power is challenged by an employee

•    area was poorly managed

•    work needs to be coordinated with another department or organization

Not to be used when employees

•    become tense, fearful or resentful

•    expect to have their opinions heard

•    begin depending on to make all their decisions

•    low employee morale, high turnover, absenteeism and work stoppage

Bureaucratic Leadership

Here the leaders go “by the book¨ that is according to set procedures and policies. If a situation or issue are not covered by the book, they then refer to the next level above. They are more of a police officer than a leader  where they enforce the rules.

Bureaucratic leadership can be effective when employees

•    performing routine tasks over and over

•    need to understand certain standards or procedures

•    working with dangerous or delicate equipment which require a definite

     set of procedures to operate

•    safety or security training is being conducted

•    performing tasks that require handling cash

Ineffective when

•    work habits hard to break, especially if no longer useful

•    lose their interest in their jobs and infellow workers

•    employees do only what is expected of them and no more

Democratic Leadership

Here leadership is participative, encouraging staff to be part of the decision making. They keep employees informed about everything that affects their work, shares decision making and problem solving. They are required to coach with final say but gathers information from the staff before making decision. They can produce high quantity work for long periods of time. Many employees like the trust they receive and respond with cooperation, team spirit and high morale.

Typically the democratic leader

•    develops plans to help employees evaluate their own performance

•    allows employees to establish goals

•    encourages to grow on job and be promoted

•    recognizes and encourages achievement.

Ingredients for participative leadership 

•    build culture for involvement

•    train people to participate

•    provide incentives

•    provide feedback for contribution

•    adopt appropriate leadership style

•    implement good suggestions

•    give recognition

Not always appropriate. Democratic leadership is most successful with highly skilled or experienced employees, when implementing operational changes and resolving individual or group problems.

Most effective when

•    keep employees informed about matters that affect them

•    share in decision-making and problem-solving

•    provide opportunities for employees to develop high sense of personal growth and job satisfaction

•    there is large or complex problem that requires lots of input to solve

•    changes must be made or problems solved that affect employees

•    encourage team building and participation

Should not be used when

•    not enough time to get everyone’s input

•    easier and more cost-effective for manager to make decision

•    business can not afford mistakes

•    manager feels threatened by this type of leadership

•    employee safety is critical concern

Laissez-Faire Leadership

This is a “hands-off¨ style which provides little or no direction.  Here freedom is allowed as much as possible. All authority or power is given to the employees  who must determine goals, make decisions and resolve problems on their own.

Effective style when employees

•    highly skilled, experienced and educated

•    have pride in their work and drive to do it successfully on their own

•    outside experts such as staff specialists or consultants are being used

•    employees are trustworthy and experienced

Should not be used when

•    it makes employees feel insecure at unavailability of a manager

•    can not provide regular feedback to let employees know how well they are doing

•    managers are unable to thank employees for their good work

•    manager does not understand responsibilities and is hoping the employees can cover for him or her

Varying Leadership Style depends On:

•    Manager’s personal background

     – personality, knowledge, values, ethics and experiences, what does he or she think will work?

•    Employees being supervised 

– are individuals with different personalitiesand backgrounds. Vary depending upon individual employee and what style the employee will respond best to

•    Company – traditions, values, philosophy and concerns of company will influence how a manager acts.


•    Experience – leadership in the past

•    Capacity to create or inspire a vision

•    Message – communication that is understandable, convincing and persuasive

•    Strength and willingness to work hard

•    Perseverance and determination

•    A taste and flair for commerce

•    Ability to inspire enthusiasm

•    Willingness to take risks

•    Mental Toughness that is the ability make difficult decisions, handle criticisms or face discouragement

•    Empowering others

•    Ability select a good team

LEADERSHIP STYLES – 3 main approaches

•    Characteristic traits of leader

•    Situational Leadership – analyzes factors on situation that can lead to success

•    Analyze behavior and attitudes (Either concern with task or task oriented that is getting the job done. Or concern with people or people oriented – interested in the welfare of the workers)


•    Visionary Leader

•    Re-engineering Leader

•    Directional Leader

•    Strategic Leader

•    Managing Leader

•    Bridge-building Leader

•    Motivational Leader

•    Team Building Leader

•    Entrepreneurial Leader


Email: [email protected]/[email protected]
Website: www.peaksuccessabundance.com
Blog: www.peaksuccessabundance.com/blog/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rachelkhor
YouTube: Rachel Khor


Principal Trainer, Peak Success Abundance Sdn Bhd

From Directive Communication International & American Institute of Business Psychology:

– Certification in Colored Brain Communication
– Certification in Human Drive & Motivation
– Certification in Dynamic Speaking
– Certification in Curriculum Development
– PSMB Certified Trainer
– Certification in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)
– Certification in Hypnotherapy from London College of Clinical
Hypnosis (LCCH)
– 18 years corporate training experience

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