Every country, institution or organization needs a leader in order to well execute its functions and meet objectives. A leader is a person who through his/her position, influences others towards the achievement of the set objective(s). They do this by setting examples others are supposed to emulate, providing the necessary environment and giving directions of what and how things are supposed to be done. A good leader is expected to possess not one, but preferably most of the following qualities; integrity, humility, dedication, magnanimity, creativity, openness, fairness, assertiveness, sense of humor (Northouse, 2009). This is not all, leaders are expected to have many more good qualities. Some even consider physical attributes like being tall, athletic and many others as essential leadership attributes.
Different leaders adopt different leadership styles. Leadership styles are broadly classified into three broad categories. Democratic leadership, autocratic leadership and laissez faire style of leadership (Northouse, 2009). Democratic leadership style is where members of a group are allowed to actively engage in the decision making process. This is achieved through the permission by the leader of the group to the members to voice their opinion without fear of victimization. A key characteristic of this style of leadership though, is that the leader retains the overall power to make the final decision (Northouse, 2009). He can, therefore, choose to ignore all of the suggestions, include part of the suggestions in his final decision or include all of the suggestions in his final decision. Its advantage is that it creates more commitment by the members thereby increasing productivity. Its major disadvantage is that it consumes a lot of time and very tedious as people have different views on many matters.
Autocratic leadership is where the leader assumes absolute power over other members of the organization or group. His ideas have to be followed, there is little flexibility if any in decision making and the leader is likely to use force to achieve goals (Northouse, 2009). This style is very demoralizing to staff. Its advantage is that it may make employees more proficient in their task as there is no time for any arguments but work only. Its disadvantage is that it frustrates employees and there is no flexibility in decisions, so a company may end up having zombie employees. This will greatly reduce their productivity
Laissez faire is a leadership style that is also commonly referred to as hands off leadership. Here, the leader delegates almost all of the decision making to the subordinates or those managers below him/her (Northouse, 2009). The advantage of this style of leadership is that it promotes innovation at the workplace as different minds come up with different ideas, as opposed to only the leader. Its disadvantages include the leader losing all his control and the subordinates feeling not adequately compensated because they are the ones who generate all the ideas in the organization.
The case of the newly appointed sergeant is a classic example of autocratic leadership. His every order must be followed and those he commands do not have a say in the decisions. They only have to execute them. The chat that occurred later between the two officers on patrol clearly shows that the officers did not like this kind of leadership; they wanted to be allowed to atleast have their opinions heard before any decision was made.
Most suitable leadership style- situational leadership approach
All of the above mentioned styles come with their pros and cons. They also suit a specific situation in order to be effective. The democratic leadership style is most suitable where the leader has a well experienced team of experts whose opinion he can trust. The laissez faire style is most applicable where the leader is not well informed about various matters that require decision making and must depend on his well trained and experienced group of lower managers. Autocratic leadership is most suitable for stressful jobs, where the staff prefer to be told exactly what they have to do and how. The organizational environment is dynamic and therefore not one of the specific situations above may last long enough to require a specific leadership style ( Zervas & Lassiter, 2007). A somewhat hybrid of the three mentioned leadership style is necessary. The situational leadership approach may be the answer.
The situational leadership approach links the effectiveness of a leader to the prevailing working environment (Gupta, 2009). It requires that a leader adopts a different style of leadership according to the task to be done. He can be democratic, autocratic or laissez faire depending on the circumstance. The leader will be required to use his intelligence to know how to get the most out of his employees given the prevailing conditions and task to be done.
A good leader makes good institution and vice versa. Leadership must also be distinguished from management. While management is a profession, many people believe that leaders are born and not made.
Gupta, A. (2009). Situational Leadership. PRACTICAL MANAGEMENT. Retrieved from
Northouse, G, P. (2009). Leadership: Theory and Practice. SAGE
Zervas, C. & Lassiter, D. (2007). Leadership Style: Is There “One Best,” Or Is Flexibility Worth
Developing? Leadership Advantage. Retrieved from http://www.leadershipadvantage.com/leadershipstyle.html