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The Entrepreneur Factor

Tag Archives: Leadership Types

More than 70 years ago, Prussian psychologist Kurt Lewin and several other researchers conducted studies to identify the different types of leadership. Their work became invaluable in later research that established three basic leadership styles: authoritarian, participative, and laissez-faire. Authoritarian or autocratic leaders set clear expectations and dictate orders to subordinates. This style works when applied uniformly and fairly, when decisions must be made quickly, and when the person in charge possesses the most knowledge. Prisons and the military both rely on authoritarian leadership structures. However, abusers of the approach can become overbearing, demanding, hypercritical, and dictatorial.

Participative or democratic leaders offer guidance to a group, and engage in discussion with and permit input from group members. Charlie Ditkoff, Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking and Head of the Global Healthcare Group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, has become a leader in Wall Street healthcare banking and utilizes this method of leadership. While Mr. Ditkoff has ultimate decision-making authority for those areas under his purview, his employees feel their opinions matter, so they are more motivated and engaged in their work. The democratic style of leadership typically is the most effective.

The third type of leadership, laissez-faire or delegative, generally produces the lowest productivity among workers. A manager who offers no guidance and leaves decision-making to others is rarely effective. While the laissez-faire style can be effective in the short-term, ultimately it results in poorly defined roles that drain the motivation of employees.

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