Leadership has been described as one of the primary roles of management within the organization. Leadership is fundamentally concerned with the influencing of the conduct of the junior employees and other subordinates with the aim of achieving desired objectives (Western, 2008). There are various types of leaders and managers within the organizational context. The style of leadership employed by the management depends on the immediate and the strategic objectives of the corporation. The style of leadership used by an organization may vary from context to another in accordance to the dynamics of the goals of the organization and interdepartmental relations. Generally, managers and leaders can be categorized as either theory Y or theory X managers. The style of leadership adopted by the firm determines the level of motivation of the employee, the overall performance of the workforce, as well as the relationship between the workers and the stewards of the organization. It is worth noting that the managers are the stewards of the shareholders as they act as agents of the owners of the organization. It is therefore, reasonable to conclude that leadership, and particularly the style of leadership employed by a particular organization is a principal determinant of either success or failure of the organization. This paper seeks to compare and contrast the various types of leadership in light of the impact of such styles on the employees’ morale.
The first and perhaps the most popular leadership style in the contemporary business world is the participative style of management. Also referred to as the democratic leadership style, this one entails the involvement of the members of the workforce in the course of decision making (Skinner, 1992). The leader remains the one to give the final decision but he or she will rely greatly on the contributions of the employees. This style of management is used where there is need to motivate the workforce of a company. Involving the employees of a company in the decision making process makes them develop a feeling of affiliation towards the company. It gives them a deep sense of belonging. As such, they consider themselves part of the organizations ownership. This plays a very important psychological role in motivating them to contribute quality ideas to the management and running of the organization.
The democratic form of leadership is applied where there is need to establish strong teams. Team work is enhanced since the leaders and the followers work in consultation with one another (Daft, 2008). As they interact at individual level, strong social links are established. With the strong interpersonal connections in the workforce, working as a team becomes easy and practicable. The style can as well be applied where there is need to introduce change. The employees have a tendency to resist change. The best way of getting them to embrace the change is through involving them in the process of introducing change.
Through seeking their opinions about the implementation of the change, chances of resistance are kept minimal (Western, 2008). This style of management should as well be applied where the morale of the employees seems to be declining. Participative management is in line with theory Y of management as it works on the presumption that the members of the workforce are mature and have the capability to make choices on their own. Unlike the theory X, this style does not work with punishments and threats, but rather consultations and democracy.
The second style of leadership is the autocratic style. Also referred to as the authoritarian style of leadership, this one is one where the leader instructs the followers on what he wishes to have executed and how desires the execution to take place. In this style of leadership, the followers have no power to have a say to the course of making decisions in the company. The organization works on the decisions made by the directors, strategic managers as well as the senior supervisors (Marques, 2007). The autocratic leader does not engage in consultations with his juniors. The same way, such a leader does not entertain questions from the juniors. The bossy character associated with this leadership style is unpopular among the workers.
Over the last three decades, this style of management has been criticized by management consultants and research experts. However, it is noteworthy that this style of leadership can come too be helpful in some circumstances. For instance, the authoritarian style of management is the most efficient mode when it comes to guidance fresh recruits of the workforce (Daft, 2008). The new employee feels motivate working with an experienced and powerful manager. The authoritarian leader as well instills a sense of seriousness in the recruits. Similarly, this style of leadership can and should be used where and when the workforce is not reacting to all the other styles of leadership.
Authoritarian leadership can be employed when and where the leader feels his position is challenged. During such incidences, the leader will always want to prove to the workforce that he or she is the one in power (Mehontra, 2005). The leader may feel that his position and associated powers are compromised if the decision making power seems to be shifting entirely to the juniors. As a supervisor, this is the most efficient method of administration. The supervisor ought to work with authority. Such authority is a sign of power and experience. The participative manager cannot effectively supervise the workforce of juniors as such a leader is likely to compromise on grounds of strong links with his or her juniors.
This style of leadership that is mainly characterized by rewards and threats is not suitable where and when there is low morale among the employees. Such a leadership style is associated with low motivation and morale among the juniors. The juniors may develop negative attitudes towards the leaders. As such, the rate of employee turnover may be high. Employee turnover is the rate at which the workforce of an organization changes (Western, 2008). Where such negative trends as absenteeism are observed, such a style of leadership should be replaced with a different one almost immediately as remedying the damage will be more expensive in terms of time and resources. This style is not effective where the opinions of the employees need to be heard.
This leadership style is the most appropriate where there is little trust between the juniors and the managers and leaders. Authoritarian leadership is as well the most efficient and effective style of leadership where the manager has adequate information and needs little or no contribution from the junior members (Mehontra, 2005). Similarly, this style of leadership is as well the most appropriate where the workforce is highly motivated. A highly motivated workforce does not need to be involved in the course of making decisions as they require no more motivation. As such the authoritarian leadership style is used where the time available for making the decisions is limited. Consultative and democratic procedures call for much time as they involve large numbers of people with varied ideas.
The next leadership style is the free reign leadership. This style entails delegation of power. Delegation is the process through which the leader gives some decision making power to the juniors. There may be various reasons for delegation. One of the reasons is that the manager or the leader may want to shift blame to the juniors especially where they want things their way and chances of failure are high (Mehontra, 2005). In this style of leadership, the leader lets the employees or the juniors supervise themselves. This style of leadership mostly used where there is adequate trust between the leaders and the juniors. The leaders will only delegate power where the employees or subordinates are skilled and can manage their own activities.
A leader can as well delegate power where one or some of the juniors are more experienced or knowledgeable in a particular field (Marques, 2007). In such a case, the manager lets the concerned member take over the leadership of the group. Delegation can be appropriate where there is need to promote the development of informal teams. Such teams have been found to boost performance and productivity especially in the manufacturing concerns. Similarly, free reign style of leadership creates a rich breeding ground for future managers. Leaving the decision making power to the subordinate member equips such a member with proper decision making and leadership skills. As such they grow to become the future members of the leadership team of the top management. It is, however, worth noting that delegation is limited to some particular tasks. For instance, it is not possible to delegate strategic decision making functions to the lower levels of the organization’s workforce.
Another type of leadership is the bureaucratic form of leadership. This form of leadership is also referred to as the red tape form of management. The style entails the use of stringent procedures and structures. In this form of leadership, the leaders lead by the book. There are no informal procedures entertained in this form of leadership. Everything is done according to laid down procedures. The structures and procedures are characterized by rigidity (Skinner, 1992). The decision making procedures are lengthy and entail too many formalities. Everything, including the pettiest of expenses, needs authorization. A manager that leads by this system makes his juniors function like robots since they cannot contribute anything to the system. The leaders that adopt this style leave nothing to discretion.
Bureaucratic leadership is suitable where the tasks being performed are of routine nature. Delegating authority in this kind of leadership is easy and efficient as every detail is laid down in black and white (Daft, 2008). Bureaucracy is as well suitable where and when the transactions being processed involve cash. Such cash transactions need not be mishandled as cash is a very sensitive asset. The chances of the cash getting lost are minimal since authorization procedures involved can enable the management trace the money and establish the point of fraud. Similarly, the style of leadership is effective where there is need for the leaders to make the juniors understand the organization well in terms of the way in which it operates.
However, it is important to note that this method of leadership is not encouraged in contemporary business practice since it demeans the employee. The employee has been identified as the most important stakeholder in the 21st century. Undermining the role of the employee in the decision making process may cause unforeseen disturbances such as high labor turn over (Marques, 2007). This method is ineffective where there is low motivation on the side of the employee. Additionally, processing urgent decisions and orders may be quite inefficient under bureaucratic leadership since the procedures and formalities are lengthy and time consuming.
Laissez faire is the last of the most prominent styles of leadership. This is a form of leadership that is applied where the leaders have so much trust in the employees (Skinner, 1992). The manager may stop doing his work as a manger and engage in other roles such as professional work. The employees that are most efficiently subjected to this kind of leadership are those employees with high skill in their respective fields. For instance, where the workforce comprises professionals, laissez faire can be applied unlike incidences where the workforce is a combination of both the skilled and unskilled laborers. In conclusion, it is important to note that all the above discussed forms of leadership can be employed all at once according to the circumstances and context. For instance, when the organization intends to introduce a new idea, all the forms of leadership are employed concurrently. This is done mainly with the goal of minimizing resistance and promoting cooperation between the leaders and the juniors or subordinate. During such times as the times of introducing change, all the styles of leadership come in handy. Employing all the above discussed styles simultaneously may help the leaders acquire new ideas and implement them effectively.
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Marques, S. (2007). The Awakened Leader: One Simple Leadership Style That Works every time, everywhere. Fawnskin: Personhood Press
Mehontra, A. (2005). Leadership Styles of Principals. New York: Mittal Publishers
Skinner, R. (1992). 22 Leadership Principles. Bountiful: Horizon Publishers
Western, S. (2008). Leadership: A Critical Text. London: Sage Publications