Leadership is the ability to influence and motivate a group towards the achievement of goals willingly and enthusiastically. It is the guiding and influencing the task related activities of people towards common goals. The leader influences the behavior of followers toward goal achievement in a given situation.

Leadership plays an important role in understanding and predicting group behavior. It is the leader who develops trusting relationships with group members and provides them direction toward goal achievement.

According to Stephen P. Robbins, “Leadership is the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of goals”.

Leadership sets goals of organization and groups. It sets tasks and standards of performance. It gives attention to needs and expectations of followers. Above all, it influences goal achievements. It empowers people to take actions to reach goals.

Leadership Styles

Leadership styles refer to the leader’s behavior towards his subordinates. It is the result of leader’s objectives, personality and experience and value system. In short, the behavior shown by a leader during supervision of subordinates is known as leadership style. There are three leadership styles:

1. Autocratic (authoritarian) style:

A leader who is work or self-centered is called autocratic style. He centralizes power and decision making in him and exercises complete control over the subordinates. He sets the group goal and structures the work. In autocratic situations high frustrations, low morale and high conflicts are quite natural. In turn subordinates try to avoid responsibility, lack initiation. They feel insecurity and threat.

It is useful when subordinates are: inexperienced, the company approves fear and punishment, the leader is highly competent and active in decision making.

2. Democratic (participative) style:

The participative style gives equal focus to both work and people. He invites subordinates in decision making-decentralizes authority. This style produces more job satisfaction and morale of employees. Participation enables subordinates to satisfy their social and ego needs. The leader encourages subordinates and uses feedback to coach employees.

It is useful when subordinates are highly competent, experienced, leader prefer participation, objectives are transparent to employees. Reward and involvement is primary means of motivation and control.

3. Free rein (laissez faire) style:

Just opposite to autocratic style is free rein style. Such a leader is just like “fully constitutional monarchy”. He does not lead but leaves the group entirely to itself. It is a kind of style where the leader gives employees complete freedom to make decisions on work methods.

It is useful when organizational goals have been communicated, leader is interested in delegating decision making fully, and subordinates are well trained and highly knowledgeable ready to take responsibilities.

  • Which style is superior….???

In short run, autocratic style may produce good result but democratic produces good result in long run. Sometimes, leader prefer free rein style because of lack of confidence or because the situation is much favorable.

For example: Our parents used to be autocratic when we were in school, they tend to be participative when we are mature and free rein as they become old and we are self-motivated and able.

Differences between Leaders and Managers:

  • Managers give answers, leaders ask questions
  • Managers criticize mistakes, leaders call attention to mistakes indirectly
  • Managers forget to praise, leaders reward even the smallest improvement
  • Managers focus on the bad, leaders emphasize the good
  • Managers want credit, leaders credit their teams