Leadership style means the pattern of behaviour a leader follows or adopts for influencing the followers or the subordinates working in the enterprise. What style of leadership a leader adopts depends on an array of factors such as his personality traits, value system and experience.

Leadership style varies from person to person at the same point of time and may also vary from one situation to another situation by the same leader.

Leadership styles can be studied on the basis of: 1. Use of Authority 2. Motivation 3. Orientation.

Some of the leadership styles are: 1. Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership 2. Participative or Democratic Leadership 3. Free Rein or Laissez-Faire Leadership.

Leadership Styles: Types, Autocratic, Democratic, Free Rein or Laissez Leadership Styles as studied in Management

Leadership Styles – Autocratic , Participative, Free rein or laissez-faire (With Advantages and Disadvantages)

Behavioural pattern adopted by a leader while influencing his followers is called as a leadership style. What style of leadership a leader adopts depends on an array of factors such as his personality traits, value system and experience. Leadership style varies from person to person at the same point of time and may also vary from one situation to another situation by the same leader.


Broadly speaking, leadership styles are categorised into three categories:

1. Autocratic or authoritarian leadership

2. Participative or democratic leadership


3. Free rein or laissez-faire leadership.

1. Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership:

An autocratic leader exercises strict control over his subordinates. He dominates the group and gives orders with an expectation of fulfillment without any queries. Such a leader believes in maintaining a formal authority relationships, strictly following one-way communication and has least trust and confidence in his subordinates.

Leaders with authoritative behavioural pattern motivate subordinates with the tools of punishments, threats and penalties. In autocratic leadership style, decision-making is centralised with the leader, subordinates are perceived as mere recipients of orders and work environment is tense.



i. It permits swift decision-making.

ii. High task accomplishment leading to greater motivation for leader.

iii. Highly effective for inexperienced and inefficient workers.

iv. Strong chain of command and strict control.



i. It leads to frustration, low morale and conflict among employees.

ii. This leadership style does not allow individuals to be creative and imaginative.

iii. Overdependence on leader leads to inflexibility in operations.


iv. Work environment is non-cordial and stressed.

2. Democratic or Participative Leadership:

Participative leader also called as democratic leader invites inputs from the subordinates on company issues before taking any decision. Participative leadership involves all team members both in terms of identification of goals as well as devising policies and strategies to achieve such goals. In this type of leadership, ample freedom of opinion is given to subordinates and two-way communication is encouraged. Democratic leaders use rewards and appreciations as tools to motivate their subordinates.


i. Source of increased employee morale and satisfaction.


ii. Reduces reluctance to accept decisions as employees were duly consulted before taking decisions.

iii. Increases commitment and cooperation of employees towards organisational goals as they were party to its setting.

iv. Participative leadership empowers employees to use their creativity and be more productive.

v. Participation imbibes the feeling of belongingness in employees and hence reduces absenteeism and labour turnover.

vi. Due to multiple inputs, quality of decisions improves.


i. Participation of all team members to take decisions is a time-consuming process and may result in delays in decision-making.

ii. Democratic approach may dilute the quality of expertise involved in decision-making.

iii. Larger the people involved, more is the possibility of conflicts. This holds true for participative approach also.

iv. Subordinates may perceive consultation as a sign of incompetency of the leader.

3. Free Rein or Laissez-Faire Leadership:

Under free rein leadership also called as laissez-faire, it may be said that virtually there is no leadership. Though the performance standards and objectives are set, subordinates are given full autonomy to decide and plan how to achieve these objectives. The entire decision-making responsibility is passed on to the subordinates with least intervention of leader.

There is a free flow of communication, rather more often an upward communication is observed. Such a leader does not exercise his power in giving directions. This style of leadership is affective only if subordinates are highly committed and capable enough to take wise decisions solely.


i. Least intervention of leader increases morale and job satisfaction of employees.

ii. Scope of working independently and hence growing with maturity in process.

iii. Optimum utilisation of employee potential.


i. Lack of direction may cause ambiguity and confusion.

ii. May lead to chaotic environment if subordinates work in a disjoint manner.

iii. May give adverse results if subordinates are not fully committed and capable.

Leadership Styles – Authoritarian or Autocratic Style, Participative or Democratic Style and Free Rein Style

Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people.

There are normally three styles of leadership:

1. Authoritarian or Autocratic

2. Participative or Democratic

3. Delegate or Free Reign

Good leaders use all the three styles of leadership, though, however, only one of them dominates at a point of time.

1. Authoritarian (Autocratic):

This style is used when the leader tells his employees what he wants and how he wants it done, without getting the advice of his followers. Some of the appropriate conditions when this style is used are when leader has all the information to solve the problem, he is short on time, and his employees are well motivated.

Some people tend to think that this style is leading by threats and abusing their power. This is not the authoritarian style rather it is an abusive unprofessional style called bossing people around which has no place in a leader’s profile.

The authoritarian style should only be used on rare occasions. If leaders have the time and want to gain commitment and motivation from the employees, they should use the participative style.

2. Participative (Democratic):

This style involves the leader and one or more employees in the decision-making process (determining what to do and how to do). However, the leader maintains the final decision-making authority. Using this style is not a sign of weakness; rather it is a sign of strength that employees respect and are committed to.

This style is normally used when leader has part of the information, and employees have other parts. A leader is not expected to know everything — this is why he employs knowledgeable and skillful employees. Using this style is of mutual benefit to both, leader and the followers. It allows followers to become part of the team and leader to make better decisions.

3. Delegate (Free Reign):

In this style of leadership, leader allows the employees to make decisions. However, the leader remains responsible for the decisions that are made by employees. This style is used when employees are able to analyze the situation and determine what needs to be done and how to do it. The leader cannot do everything. He sets priorities and delegates certain tasks to employees.

This style is not to be used so that leader can blame others when things go wrong. Rather, this style should be used when leader has full trust and confidence in his people. This style of leadership should be used wisely.

This is also known as laissez faire style of leadership which means non-interference in the affairs of others. A good leader uses all the three styles, depending on what forces are involved between the followers, the leader, and the situation.

Some of the situations when these styles are used are as follows:

1. Use authoritarian style on a new employee who is just learning the job. The leader is competent and a good coach. The employee is motivated to learn a new skill but the working environment is new for him.

2. Use participative style with a team of workers who know their job. The leader knows the problem but does not have all the information. The employees know their jobs and want to become part of the team.

3. Use delegate style with a worker who knows more about the job than the leader. Leader cannot do everything. The employee needs to take ownership of his job. Also, the situation might call for the leader to be at other places, doing other things so that employees manage the work on their own.

4. Use all Three – Telling employees that a procedure is not working correctly and a new one must be established (authoritarian). Asking for their ideas and input on creating a new procedure (participative). Delegating tasks in order to implement the new procedure (delegative).

The following forces influence the style to be used:

a. How much time is available?

b. Are relationships based on respect and trust or on disrespect?

c. Who has the information – leader, employees, or both?

d. How well employees are trained and how well leader knows the task.

e. Internal conflicts.

f. Stress levels.

g. Type of task-structured, unstructured, complicated, or simple?

h. Laws or established procedures.

Positive and Negative Approaches:

There is a difference in ways leaders approach their employees. Positive leaders use rewards, such as education, independence, etc. to motivate employees while negative leaders emphasize on penalties. The negative approach must be used carefully as it has high cost on the human spirit.

Negative leaders dominate people. They believe the only way to get things done is through penalties, such as loss of job, days off without pay, reprimand employees in front of others, etc. They believe their authority is increased by pushing everyone into higher level of productivity but when this approach is used wrongly, it lowers the morale of employees which lowers the productivity.

Most leaders do not strictly use one style or another but are somewhere on a continuum ranging from extremely positive to extremely negative. People who continuously work out of the negative are bosses while those who primarily work out of the positive are the real leaders.

Use of Consideration and Structure:

Leaders use the following approaches while exercising the leadership styles:

1. Consideration (employee orientation) – Leaders are concerned about human needs of their employees. They build teamwork, help employees with their problems and provide them psychological support.

2. Structure (task orientation) – Leaders believe that they get results by consistently keeping people busy and urging them to produce more.

There is evidence that leaders who are considerate in their leadership style are high performers and more satisfied with their job.

Consideration and structure are independent of each other, thus, they should not be viewed as opposite ends of a continuum. For example, a leader who becomes more considerate does not necessarily mean that he or she has become less structured and vice versa.

Leadership Styles – Authority Style Leadership and Behavior Style

There are numerous leadership styles that can be adopted by an organization. A leadership style can be defined as the approach adopted by the organizational leaders to provide direction, implement plans, and motivate the employees in an organization.

The following sections briefly explain the different styles of leadership:

1. Authority Style Leadership:

Authority style refers to a leadership style in which leaders use authority to get the tasks done from their subordinates. However, it depends on the leaders how to use authority.

There are three types of leaders based on authority, which are as follows:

i. Autocratic Leadership Style – It involves the leaders who believe in power. These leaders give orders and control subordinates through rewards and punishments.

ii. Democratic Leadership Style: Believes in communication and participation of subordinates in decision-making. These types of leaders believe in sharing ideas with their subordinates.

iii. Free-rein Leadership Style – It includes those leaders who do not use the power. There is no leadership at all and complete freedom is given to employees to set their individual goals.

It is not necessary that a leader follows a single leadership style. A leader can be autocratic in one situation or democratic in another.

2. Behavior Style:

Behavior style refers to a leadership style in which leaders possess different attitudes. In 1964, Robert Blake and Jane Mouton developed the behavioral leadership model called managerial grid model. Behavior style is further sub-divided into five styles of leadership, based on the managerial grid model.

Some leaders are very task oriented, some are people oriented; whereas, some are the combination of the two. Concern for production includes the leaders who are very task oriented, whereas concern for people includes the leaders who are very people oriented.

The five styles of leadership according to managerial grid are as follows:

i. Impoverished Leadership Style- Involves the sluggish approach of a leader who has little concern for both production and people. These types of leaders just create an environment for getting the tasks done. In addition, such leaders remain indifferent towards the employees and organization.

ii. Country-club Leadership Style – It provides more emphasis on serving the needs of the people. These types of leaders pay more attention to the needs of subordinates, as they believe that focusing on their needs will increase their performance. Country-club leadership style is also known as accommodating style.

iii. Team Leadership Style – It refers to the style in which leaders focus on both the needs of subordinates and production. This style involves commitment from the leaders and subordinates. The team environment created in this style results in high satisfaction of subordinates and high production. Team leadership style is also called the sound style.

iv. Produce-perish Leadership Style – It refers to the style of the leader who uses control and domination on his/her subordinates. The leaders in this category treat employees as the means to an end. The production needs are more important as compared to employee needs. The employees are pressurized to perform better in return of money. In addition, they are made to follow rules and punishments dictated by the leader.

v. Middle of the Road Leadership Style – It involves compromise by the leaders between the organizational goals and subordinates’ needs. This style involves a balance; therefore, both the goals cannot be fully met.

Leadership Styles – 6 Important Styles

1. Autocratic Leader:

Autocratic leader wants his subordinate to work in the manner he wants. He tells them what they should do, where, when and how. He does not let his followers offer any suggestion. The autocratic leader thinks that his followers are incapable of making decision.

2. Democratic Leaders:

This is also known as “participative leadership”. A democratic leader does not make unilateral or one-sided decisions. He allows his subordinates to discuss the problem and put forth their views freely. Democratic leadership is based on the assumption that the followers are all capable.

3. Laissez Faire Leader:

A Laissez fair leader gives full freedom to his followers to act. He does not lay down guidelines with in which his followers have towards. The Laissez faire leader does not exercise the formal authority of a leader.

4. Functional Leader:

A functional leader is one who is an expert in a particular field of activity. Such a leader always thinks of the tasks he has undertaken and spends most of his time finding out ways and means of doing it better.

5. Institutional leader:

An institutional leader is one who has become a leader by virtue of his official position in the organisational hierarchy. An institutional leader may not be an expert in his field of activity. He, therefore, may not be able to provide expert guidance to his followers. But he has to secure performance from them. He may, therefore, become demanding and thereby incur the displeasure of his subordinates.

6. Paternalistic Leader:

A paternalistic leader takes care of his followers in the way the head of a family takes care of the family members. He is mainly concerned with the well-being of his followers and is always ready to protect them. Thus, the paternalistic leader is able to be sociable but is not able to offer intellectual help.

Leadership Styles – Coercive, Authoritative, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting and Coaching

Leadership style is the approach manager’s use in exercising leadership when they are relating themselves to their team members. It is sometimes called management style. It has to be observed at the outset that some leaders are disciplinarians or martinets (i.e., persons who maintain strict discipline) while others are more permissive and tend to delegate power to subordinates.

There are many styles of leadership and no one style is necessarily better than the other in any situation. To greater or lesser degrees, leaders can be autocratic or democratic, controlling or enabling, task oriented or people centred. The following six styles of leadership have been identified. Each is to be used in a different situation.

i. Coercive — demands compliance (to be used in crisis or with problem people).

ii. Authoritative — mobilises people (to be used when new vision and direction are needed).

iii. Affiliative — creates harmony (to be used to heal wounds and to motivate people under stress).

iv. Democratic — forges consensus (to be used to build agreement and get positive contributions).

v. Pacesetting — sets high standards (to be used to get fast results from a motivated team).

vi. Coaching — develops people (to be used to improve performance and develop strengths).

In truth there is no such thing as an ideal leadership style. It all depends. The various factors affecting the degree to which a style is appropriate are flexible enough to alter the style of an organisation, the nature of the task to be performed, the characteristics of the individuals in the leader’s team (the followers) and of the group as a whole and, importantly, the personality of the leader.

Effective leaders are flexible enough to alter their style to meet the demands of the situation. In general, democratic leaders may have to shift into more of a directive mode when faced with a crisis, but they make clear what they are doing and why. Poor leaders change their style arbitrarily so that their team members are confused and do not know what to expect next.

Good leaders may also change their style when dealing with individual team members on the basis of their characteristics. Some people need more positive directions than others. Others respond best if they are involved in decision making with their subordinates. But there is a limit to the degree of flexibility that should be used. It is a wrong policy to differentiate too much between the ways in which individuals are treated or to be inconsistent in one’s approach.

Leadership Styles – 3 Styles Classified on the Basis of Authority, Motivation and Orientation

Leadership style means the pattern of behaviour a leader follows or adopts for influencing the followers or the subordinates working in the enterprise. Leadership patterns differ widely among leaders. They also vary from one enterprise to another. The leadership style of a leader is determined by several factors, such as, the nature of individual leader, his philosophy and personality, his attitude toward others, his experiences and values and the overall environment in the enterprise. A leader is known by the style he adopts in inspiring, guiding and influencing the subordinates.

The leadership styles may be classified on the following bases:

1. On the basis of use of authority.

2. On the basis of motivation.

3. On the basis of orientation.

1. On the Basis of Use of Authority:

The use of authority is an important basis of classification of leadership styles or the leaders.

On this basis, the leadership styles are put into three major categories:

(i) Autocratic leadership

(ii) Democratic leadership, and

(iii) Free-rein leadership.

(i) Autocratic Leadership:

Autocratic leadership is also known as authoritarian, directive or monothetic leadership style. Such a leader is termed as autocratic leader. According to McFarland, “An authoritarian leader is one who gets others to do as he directs with little or no scope on their part for influencing the decision.” He commands. He expects compliance. He centralises decision-making power in himself. He is dogmatic and positive. He leads by the use of fear, threats, rewards and punishments. In brief, he believes that it is he who can do the job better than his subordinates.

(ii) Democratic Leadership:

Democratic leadership style is also termed as participative, or consultative style. A leader practising this style is called democratic leader. Such a leader believes in participation or consultation. He leads mainly by persuasion and example in lieu of power, fear or status. He makes the subordinates important. He decentralises decision-making authority and invites participation in decision making.

In the words of Koontz and Weihrich, “The democratic, or participative, leader consults with subordinates on proposed actions and decisions and encourages participation from them. This type of leader ranges from the person who does not take action without subordinates’ concurrence to the one who makes decisions but consults with subordinates before doing so.”

(iii) Free-Rein Leadership:

Free-rein leadership is also termed as laissez-faire leadership. A leader practising this style is known as free-rein leader. Such a leader gives full freedom to his subordinates. He uses his authority very little. In fact, he delegates his authority completely to his subordinates. Under this leadership style, the manager or leader initially decides the policy, formulates the programmes, and prescribes the limitations for action.

Thereafter, everything is left to the subordinates. Thus, the subordinates are free to set their own goals, programmes and procedures. They work out themselves the problems involved in the accomplishment of assigned tasks. The leader’s role remains restricted to “aiding the operations of the followers and acting primarily as a contact with the group’s external environment.”

2. On the Basis of Motivation:

The leadership style, on the basis of motivation, is put into two categories – (i) Positive approach to leadership, and (ii) Negative approach to leadership. These two motivational styles of leadership have their own specific features.

Under positive approach to leadership style, the leader induces, influences and directs the subordinates by offering rewards. Such a leader believes that the more the reward, the higher is the cooperation of the subordinates and the higher is the efficiency. Rewards include both monetary and non-monetary incentives. It is, further, believed that suitable reward system induces the people in the enterprise to work hard and thereby the organisational goals are attained efficiently and effectively.

On the other hand, the negative approach to leadership rests on the provisions of penalties or punishments. Under this style, the leader induces the people to hard work on the basis of fear, threats, etc. The people are convinced that in case of defaults penalties would be imposed, such as, wage cut, demotion, retrenchment, etc. Negative leaders pose themselves superior to others and, thus, act as the boss rather than leader. A negative leader never gets natural cooperation from his subordinates or the followers.

3. On the Basis of Orientation:

On this basis, leadership styles are divided into two categories – (i) Production-oriented leadership style, and (ii) Employee-oriented leadership style.

Production-oriented leader concentrates more on increasing production. He believes in getting the work done. He assumes that the subordinates should be kept busy in work. On the contrary, an employee-oriented leader is much more concerned about his subordinates. He makes all-out efforts to provide better working conditions to his subordinates and remains cautious about the subordinates’ problems and tries to solve the problems, if any, on the job itself.

Though there are different types of leadership styles, it is not necessary that the leader follows only one style. A leader, keeping in view the organisational goals and environmental forces, may change his style too. The same leader, at one time, may act as an autocratic leader, but at the other time, may act as a democratic leader. Similarly, he may adopt participative style and so on.

Leadership Styles – 3 Styles: Autocratic, Consultative and Free-Rein (with Advantages and Disadvantages)

The behaviour pattern exhibited by a leader while influencing the followers is known as leadership style.

On the basis of how leaders use their power, leadership styles can be classified into three broad categories:

1. Autocratic,

2. Democratic and

3. Free-rein.

1. Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership:

An autocratic leader exercises complete control over the subordinates. He centralises power in himself and takes all decisions without consulting the subordinates. He dominates and drives his group through coercion and command. He loves power and never delegates authority. The leader gives orders and expects the subordinates to follow them ungrudgingly and unquestioningly. He uses rewards and holds threat of penalties to direct the subordinates. He does not delegate authority.


(i) Autocratic leadership style permits quick decision-making.

(ii) It provides strong motivation and satisfaction to the leader who dictates terms.

(iii) Less competent subordinates are needed at lower levels.

(iv) The style may yield positive results when great speed is required.


(i) Autocratic style leads to frustration, low morale and conflict among subordinates,

(ii) Subordinates tend to shirk responsibility and initiative,

(iii) Full potential of subordinates and their creative ideas are not utilised,

(iv) Organisational continuity is threatened in the absence of the leader because subordinates get no opportunity for development.

Autocratic leadership style may be appropriate when subordinates are uneducated, unskilled and submissive. Lack of knowledge and experience on the part of subordinates make it necessary that the leader takes decisions himself. This style may also be desirable when the company endorses fear and punishment as accepted disciplinary techniques.

When a leader prefers to be dominant in decision-making and there is little room for error in final accomplishment, autocratic leadership may enhance morale and improve productivity. These days autocratic style is becoming less desirable as employees are becoming more educated and well-organised.

2. Democratic or Participative Leadership:

A consultative or democratic leader takes decisions in consultation and participation with the subordinates. He decentralises authority and allows the subordinates to share his power. The leader does what the group wants and follows the majority opinion. He keeps the followers informed about matters affecting them. A democratic leader provides freedom of thinking and expression. He listens to the suggestions, grievances and opinions of the subordinates.


(i) Consultative leadership improves the job satisfaction and morale of subordinates.

(ii) It cultivates the decision-making ability of subordinates,

(iii) The leader multiplies his abilities through the contribution of his followers.

(iv) It develops positive attitudes and reduces resistance to change,

(v) The quality of decisions is improved,

(vi) Labour absenteeism and labour turnover are reduced.


(i) Democratic style is time-consuming and may result in delays in decision-­making.

(ii) It may not yield positive results when subordinates prefer minimum interaction with the leader,

(iii) Over a period of time subordinates may develop the habit of expecting to be consulted,

(iv) Consultation may be interpreted as a sign of incompetence on the part of the leader to deal with problems,

(v) It may be used as a means of passing the buck to others and of abdicating responsibility,

(vi) It requires considerable communicating and persuasive skills on the part of the leader.

Consultative leadership is considered to be more effective than autocratic style through there is no empirical proof for this. Consultative style is more compatible with the prevailing value system which favours freedom of expression and independent thinking. The choice of leadership style depends upon the immediate goal and on the subordinates.

If the immediate goal is increase in productivity or subordinates have low need for independence autocratic style may be preferable. But when the goal is job satisfaction and employees have a high need for independence, consultative style may be more effective. Consultative style is also appropriate where subordinates have accepted the goals of the organisation and the leader really wants to share decision-making with the subordinates.

3. Free-Rein or Laissez-Fair Leadership:

Free-rein leadership involves complete delegation of authority so that subordinates themselves take decisions. The free-rein leader avoids power and relinquishes the leadership position. He serves only as a ‘contact’ to bring the information and resources needed by the subordinates.


(i) Positive effect on job satisfaction and morale of subordinates,

(ii) Maximum possible scope for development of subordinates,

(iii) Full utilisation of the potential of subordinates.


(i) Subordinates do not get the guidance and support of the leader.

(ii) It ignores the leader’s contribution just as autocratic style ignores the contribution of the subordinates.

(iii) Subordinates may move in different directions and may work at cross purposes which may degenerate into chaos.

Free-rein style may be appropriate when the subordinates are well-trained, highly knowledgeable, self-motivated and ready to assume responsibility.

Leadership Styles – Based on the Use of Authority 

The total pattern of explicit and implicit leader’s actions as seen by employees is called leadership style. The behavioural pattern which a leader exhibits is known as his style of leadership.

Let us first take an overview on style of leadership. Different leadership style exists among leaders in different times and in different situations. The leadership style in particular is determined by the leader’s personality, experience and value system, nature of followers and nature of environment. There are three important leadership styles which are based on the use of authority.

These are:

(i) Autocratic Leadership

(ii) Participative leadership

(iii) Free rein leadership

(i) Autocratic Leadership:

It is also known as “authoritarian or directive” style of leadership. The autocratic leader gives orders which must be obeyed by the subordinates. He centralizes decision-making power in himself. He takes decision for the group without consulting the group members and simply tells the group what the members have to do. The autocratic leader gives personal praise or criticism to each member on his own initiative and remains aloof from the group for most of the time.

There are further three categories of autocratic leaders as follows:

(a) Strict Autocrat:

He relies on negative influences and gives orders which the subordinate must accept. He follows negative motivational style to get the work done. Negative motivation includes imposing penalty, criticizing subordinates and so on.

(b) Benevolent Autocrat:

Benevolent means kind. An autocratic leader may also follow, positive style of using his power to disburse (to pay money) rewards to the subordinates. A benevolent autocrat is effective in getting higher productivity in many situations and developing effective human relationships.

(c) Manipulating Autocrat:

Such a leader makes the subordinates feel that they are participative in decision making, but he takes all the decisions himself.

Autocratic leader have proved to be successful in many cases. In particular, subordinates who depend upon the boss and do not want to take any initiative get satisfaction from this style. Autocratic style has also proved successful in cases when there is a need of quick decisions.

Autocratic style is not liked by the people who are enlightened and want to participate in decision making. Autocratic style of leadership may endanger the organisational efficiency. Another drawback is that it does not help develop future leaders in the organisation.

(ii) Laissez Faire/Free Rein Leader:

A free rein leader does not lead, but leaves the group entirely to itself. He is represented by the chairman of the board who leaves all responsibility for most of the work to his subordinates. The free rein manager avoids using power. He depends largely upon the group to establish its own goals and work out its own problems.

Group members work themselves and provide their own motivation. The manager serves as a contact man with the outsiders to bring for his group the information and resources it needs for the accomplishment of its goals. This type of leadership is evident in research laboratories (for example) where the scientists are fairly free to conduct their research and make their decision.

Similarly, in the college, the principal does not interfere in the faculty teaching methods, but only assigns the courses to be taught. From then onwards, the faculty members are free to decide about the method of teaching, books to be recommended and various teaching aids to be used.

The possible advantage of free-rein style of leadership is as under:

(a) It creates an environment of freedom, individuality as well as team spirit.

(b) With a free and informal work environment, it is highly conducive to create work.

(c) It is very suitable where people are highly motivated and achievement oriented.

(iii) Participative or Democratic Leaders:

A democratic leader is one who gives order after consulting the group. He sees to it that policy is one who gives order after consulting the group. He sees to it that policy is worked out in group discussions and with the acceptance of the group. He never asks people to do things without making the long-term plans on which they are working and makes it clear that praise or blame will be shared by all the group members.

His decisions are not unilateral because they arise from consultation and participation by the followers. Unlike an autocratic manager who controls through the official authority, a participative manager exercises control mostly by using forces within the group. It increases the acceptance of management’s ideas and reduces resistance to change. It increases their morale. It also leads to reduction in the number of grievances of the workers.

It may lead to the following advantages:

(a) Active participation in decision-making by the employees ensures greater productivity and satisfaction.

(b) Workers develop a greater sense of self-esteem, due to importance given to their ideas and their contribution.

(c) Workers become more committed to changes that may be brought about by policy changes, since they themselves participated in bringing about these changes.

(d) The leadership induces confidence, cooperation and loyalty among the employees.

(e) The morale of the employees is increased.

Now, comes behavioural approaches to leadership style.

The behavioural pattern which the leadership exhibits is called leadership style. It represents a consistent combination of philosophy, skills, traits and attitudes that are exhibited in a person’s behaviour.

Now, let us discuss variety of styles that differ on the basis of motivation, power or orientation towards task and people.

1. Positive Leader and Negative Leader:

Leaders approach people to motivate them in many ways. If the approach emphasizes reward-economic or otherwise the leader uses positive leadership. Better employee education, greater demand for independence and other factors have made satisfactory employee motivation more dependent on positive leadership.

If the emphasis is placed on the threat, fear, harshness and penalties, the leader is applying negative leadership. This approach can get acceptable short term performance in many situations, but it has high human costs.

Negative leaders act domineering and superior with people. To get the work done, they hold over their personnel such penalties as loss of job, reprimand in the presence of others and a few days off without a pay. They display authority in the false belief that it frightens everyone into productivity. They are bosses more than a leader.

2. Autocratic, Consultive and Participative Leaders:

Consultive leaders approach one or more employees and ask them for inputs prior to make a decision. These leaders may then choose to use or ignore the information and advice received, however. If the inputs are seen as used, employees are likely to feel as though they had a positive impact, if the inputs are consistently rejected; employees are likely to feel that their time has been wasted.

3. Employee Orientation and Task Orientation:

Two different leadership styles used with the employees are consideration and structure, are also known as employee orientation and task orientation.

Considerate leaders are concerned about the human needs of their employees. They try to build teamwork, provide psychological support and help employees with their personal problems.

Structured, task oriented leaders; on the other hand, believe that they get results by keeping people constantly busy, ignoring personal issues and emotions and crying them to produce.

The most successful managers are those who combine relatively high consideration and structure, giving somewhat more emphasis to consideration.

In several types of environment such as truck manufacturing, railroad construction and insurance offices, the strongly considerate leader was shown to have achieved somewhat higher job satisfaction and productivity. Subsequent studies confirm this general tendency and report desirable side effects such as lower turnover, and reduced stress within the group. Conversely, turnover, stress and other problems seemed likely to occur if a manager was unable to demonstrate considerations.

Leadership Styles: Autocratic Leadership, Participative Leadership and Free-rein Leadership (with Benefits and Limitations)

Leadership styles are the patterns of behaviour, which a leader adopts in influencing the behaviour of his followers (subordinates) in the organizational context. These patterns emerge in the leader as he begins to respond in the same fashion under similar conditions; he develops habits that become somewhat predictable to those who work with him.

The dimensions of leadership styles are:

(i) Power dimension where the superior uses varying degree of authority;

(ii) Employee or task orientation; and

(iii) Motivation.

1. Autocratic-Participative-Free-Rein Leadership:

According to this dimension, there are three leadership styles:

i. Autocratic leadership

ii. Participative leadership

iii. Free-rein leadership

i. Autocratic Leadership:

This is also known as the authoritarian directive or monotheistic style. In this style, the managers centralize the decision-making power in themselves. They structure the complete work situation for their employees and employees do what they are told. Here, the leadership may be negative because the followers are uniformed, insecure, and afraid of the leaders’ authority.

There are three categories of autocratic leaders:

(a) Strict Autocrat:

The leader follows autocratic styles in a very strict sense. The method of influencing the subordinate’s behaviour is through negative motivation, that is, by criticizing subordinates, imposing penalty, etc.

(b) Benevolent Autocrat:

The leader also centralizes the decision-making power in himself, but the motivation style is positive. The leader can be effective in getting efficiency in many situations. Some people perform better under a strong authority structure and they derive satisfaction from this kind of leadership.

(c) Incompetent Autocrat:

Sometimes, superiors adopt an autocratic leadership style just to hide their incompetence, because in other styles they may be exposed before their subordinates.

The main advantages of the autocratic technique are as follows:

a. There are many subordinates in an organization who prefer to work under a centralized authority structure and strict discipline. They get satisfaction from this style.

b. It provides strong motivation and reward to a manager exercising this style.

c. It permits very quick decisions as a single person takes most of the decisions.

d. Less competent subordinates also have the scope to work in the organiza­tion as they do negligible planning, organization, and decision-making.

The disadvantages of this style are:

a. Team members dislike it especially when it is strict and when the leader lacks motivational skills.

b. Employees lack motivation. Frustration, low morale, and conflict develop in the organization jeopardizing the organizational efficiency.

c. There is more dependence and less individuality in the organization. As a result, development of future leaders in the organization is hindered.

ii. Participative Leadership:

This style is also called democratic, consultative, or ideographic. Participation is defined as the mental and emotional involvement of a person in a group situation that encourages him to contribute to and share responsibility in group goals. A participative manager decentralizes the decision-making process. Instead of taking unilateral decisions, he or she emphasizes con­sultation and participation of the subordinates.

The various benefits of real participative management are as follows:

a. It is a highly motivating technique for employees, as they feel elevated when their ideas and suggestions are given weight in decision-making.

b. The employee’s productivity is high because they are party to the decision. Thus, they implement the decisions wholeheartedly.

c. They share the responsibility with the superior and try to safeguard him also.

d. It provides organizational stability by raising morale. Further, leaders are also prepared to take organizational positions.

The common methods adopted are democratic functioning, supervision, production, committees, suggestion programmes, and multiple-management.

However, this style has the following limitations:

a. The complex nature of an organization requires a thorough understanding of its problems, which lower level employees may not be able to do. As such, participation does not remain meaningful.

b. Some people in the organization want minimum interaction with their superiors or associates. For them, the participation technique is discouraging instead of encouraging.

c. Participation can be used covertly to manipulate employees. Thus, some employees may prefer the open tyranny of an autocrat as compared to the covert tyranny of a group.

iii. Free-Rein Leadership:

Free-rein or laissez faire technique means giving complete freedom to subordinates. In this style, the manager determines the policy, programmes, limitations, or actions once and the entire process is left to the subordinates. Group members perform everything and the manager usually coordinates with outside agencies to bring information and material which the group needs.

This style is suitable to certain situations where the manager can leave a choice to his group. It helps subordinates to develop independent personalities. However, the contribution of the manager is almost nil. It tends to permit the different units of an organization to proceed at cross purposes and the result can be chaos. Hence, this style is very rarely used in business organizations.

2. Likert’s Management System:

Rensis Likert and his associates have studied the patterns and styles of managers for three decades and have developed certain concepts and approaches important to understanding leadership behaviour. He has given a continuum of four systems of management.

Likert’s four systems of management in terms of leadership styles may be referred to as exploitative autocratic (system 1), benevolent autocratic (system 2), and participative (system 3). He ascribes this mainly to the extent of participation in management and the extent to which the practice of a supportive relationship is maintained.

He states that leadership and the other processes of an organization must be such as to ensure the maximum probability that in all interactions and in all relationships with the organization, each member in the light of his background, values, desires, and expectations, will view the experience as supportive and one which builds and maintains his sense of personal worth and importance.

Likert has also isolated three variables, which are representative of his total concept of system 4. These are (i) the use of supportive relationships by managers, (ii) the use of group decision-malting and group methods of supervision, and (iii) high-performance goals.

3. Managerial Grid:

One of the most widely known approaches of leadership styles is the managerial grid developed by Blake and Mouton. They emphasize that the leadership style consists of factors of both the task-oriented and relation- oriented behaviour in varying degrees. Their concern for phrase has been used to convey how managers are concerned about people or production, rather than how much production is getting out of the group.

Thus, it does not represent real production or the extent to which human relationship needs are being satisfied. Concern for production means the attitude of superiors towards a variety of things, such as the quality of policy decisions; procedures and processes; creativeness of research; quality of staff services; work efficiency; and the volume of output.

Concern for people includes the degree of personal commitment towards goal achievement; maintaining the self- esteem of workers; responsibility based on trust; and satisfying interpersonal relations. The managerial grid identifies four leadership styles based on these two factors found in organizations.

Blake and Mouton have described the five styles as follows:

i. The exertion of minimum effort is required to get work done and sustain organization morale.

ii. Thoughtful attention to the needs of people leads to a friendly and com­fortable organization atmosphere and work tempo.

iii. Efficiency results from arranging work in such a way that human elements have little effect.

iv. Adequate performance through the balance of work requirements and the maintenance of satisfactory morale.

v. Work accomplished is from committed people with interdependence through a common stake in the organization’s purpose and with trust and respect.

Each style points out the relative contents of concern for production or people and implies that the most desirable leader behaviour is 9.9 (maximum concern for production and people). In fact, Blake and Mouton have developed training programmes that attempt to change managers towards 9.9 management styles.

The managerial grid is a useful device for managers to identify and classify managerial styles. It helps them understand why they get the reaction that they do from their subordinates. It can also suggest some alternative styles that may be available to him.

However, it does not explain why a manager fails in one part or the other of the grid. What a manager’s style is will be influenced by many factors, including the superior, the kind of subordinates he supervises, and the situation in which he finds himself.

4. The Entrepreneurial Leadership Style:

A general picture emerges of a task-oriented and charismatic leader. Entre­preneurs drive themselves and others relentlessly, yet their personalities inspire others.

Entrepreneurs and ‘intrapreneurs’ often use a leadership style that incor­porates the following behaviours:

i. Strong Achievement Motive:

Entrepreneurs have stronger achievement motives than most managers. Building a business is an excellent vehicle for accomplishment.

ii. High Degree of Enthusiasm and Creativity:

Related to the achievement need are enthusiasm and creativity. The entrepreneur’s enthusiasm in turn makes him persuasive. As a result, entrepreneurs are often perceived as charismatic. Some entrepreneurs are often so emotional that they are regarded as eccentric.

iii. Tendency to Act Quickly When Opportunity Arises:

Entrepreneurs are noted for seizing opportunities when they arise. When a deal is on the horizon, they push themselves and those around them extra hard.

iv. Constant Hurry:

Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are always in a hurry. When engaged in one meeting, their minds typically begin to focus on the next meeting. Their flurry of activity rubs off on group members and those around them.

v. Visionary Perspective:

Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, at their best, are visionaries. They see opportunities others fail to observe. Specifically, they have the ability to identify a problem and arrive at a solution.

vi. Dislike of Hierarchy and Bureaucracy:

Entrepreneurs are not ideally suited by temperament to working within the mainstream of a bureaucracy. Many successful entrepreneurs are people who were frustrated by the constraints of a bureaucratic system. Intrapreneurs, by definition, fair reasonably well into a bureaucracy. Yet, they do not like to be restrained by tight regulations.

vii. Preference for Deeding with External Customers:

One of the reasons why entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have difficulty with bureaucracy is that they focus their energies on products, services, and customers, rather than on employees. Some entrepreneurs are gracious to customers and moneylenders but brusque/ with company insiders.

Leadership Styles – (with suitability)

The term ‘leadership style’ refers to the constituent behaviour pattern of a leader as perceived by people around him. Every leader develops a pattern in the way he handles his subordinates or followers in various situations. The leadership style is the result of the philosophy, personality and experience of the leader. It also depends upon the types of followers and the conditions prevailing in an organisation.

According to their attitude and behaviour patterns leaders may be classified as follows:

1. Autocratic or Authoritarian Style Leader:

An autocratic, also known as authoritarian style of leadership implies yielding absolute power. Under this style, the leader expects complete obedience from his subordinates and all decision-­making is centralised in the leader. There is no participation by subordinates in decision-making process.

No suggestions or initiative from subordinates is entertained. All decisions, major or small, are taken by the leader and subordinates are forced to obey them without questioning. An autocratic leader is, in fact, no leader. He is merely the formal head of the organisation and is generally disliked by the subordinates.

Types of Autocratic Leader:

Autocractic leaders may be described in following categories:

(i) Tough Autocrat:

He is a tough and dry leader who believes in only telling and ordering the subordinates. The subordinates are supposed to obey the leader without questioning. This style of functioning may not be workable for long. There may be fear and frustration among the subordinates.

(ii) Benevolent Autocrat:

This type of leader acts as a fatherly figure and assumes that only he is in the knowledge of things and is the right person to take decisions.

He generally praises subordinates for their good work. He gets detailed information from subordinates before taking decisions.


(i) The decision making is quick.

(ii) Provides motivation and inspiration to the leader since he dictates terms.

(iii) Less competent subordinates are needed at lower levels.

(iv) Provides positive results when things need to be done with speed.


(i) Leads to low morale and frustration among employees.

(ii) Subordinates avoid initiative.

(iii) Creativity and potential of subordinates is not utilised.

(iv) Subordinates not developed for higher responsibilities.

Suitability – Autocratic style of leadership is suitable in the following situations:

(i) When fear and punishment policy is followed.

(ii) When subordinates are not well qualified and are inexperienced.

(iii) Leader wants to dominate decision making.

Autocratic style of leadership is less desirable in the present context as employees are more educated and well organised.

2. Laissez-Fare or Free-Rain Style Leader:

Under this type of leadership, maximum freedom is allowed to subordinates. They are given free- hand in deciding their own policies and methods and take their own decisions. The leader provides help only when required by his subordinates otherwise he does not interfere in their work.

This style of leadership creates self-confidence in the subordinates and provides them an opportunity to develop their talents. This type of leadership may not work under all situations and with all types of subordinates. Such leadership can be employed with success where subordinates are competent, sincere and self-disciplined.


(i) There is no or minimum interference from the leaders.

(ii) Leader helps only when requested for.

(iii) Individuals are allowed to plan their work.

(iv) There is free and informal environment.

(v) Decisions may be taken by majority.

(vi) Control is exercised with less interference and supervision.

Suitability – Laissez-faire style may be suitable under following situations:

(i) Where subordinates are properly trained and are knowledgeable.

(ii) When employees take initiative and assume responsibility.

(iii)Where leader is willing to delegate authority and responsibility.

(iv) When leader has confidence in the ability of subordinates.

(v) Where goals of companies and subordinates are compatible.


(i) It creates self confidence in subordinates.

(ii) Provides opportunity to subordinates to develop their talent.

(iii) Positive effect on morale and job satisfaction of subordinates.


(i) This style of leadership may not work under all situations.

(ii) Applicable only when subordinates are competent.

(iii) Leader does not provide guidance and support.

(iv) Subordinates may work in different directions.

3. Democratic or Participative Style:

The democratic or participative style of leadership implies compromise between the two extremes of autocratic and laissez-faire style of leadership. Under this style, the leader acts according to the mutual consent and the decisions are reached after consulting the subordinates. Subordinates are encouraged to make suggestions and take inititative. It provides necessary motivation to the workers by ensuring their participation and acceptance of work methods. Mutual trust and confidence is also created resulting in job satisfaction and improved morale of workers.


(i) Decisions are taken after consulting subordinates.

(ii) There is a delegation of authority.

(iii) Decentralisation is followed in decision making process.

(iv) There is a both way communication.

(v) Co-operation of subordinates is taken in making important decisions.


(i) Level of motivation of employees is high.

(ii) Implementation of decisions is quick.

(iii) Employees become loyal to the organisation.

(iv) Willing acceptance of rules, regulations, and procedures by employees.

(v) Complaints, grievances and industrial unrest is contained.


(i) Delay in decision making.

(ii) Leader may abdicate responsibility by delegating work.

(iii) May not provide good results when subordinates are not responsive.

Suitability – This style of leadership is suitable under following situations:

(i) When leader wants participation of subordinates in decision making.

(ii) When the company wants to increase job satisfaction of employees.

(iii) When subordinates accept goal of the organisation.

Example – Narayan Murthy who has taken the command of Infosys for the second time encourages communication freely with each other and gives suggestions.

Difference between Autocratic, Laissez Fare and Democratic Style:

Autocratic Style:

1. Decision making – Only leader takes decisions.

2. Motivation technique – Fear and punishment (negative motivation).

3. Focus – Leader centric.

4. Role of leader – Directs all activities.

5. Delegation of authority – Centralised authority, no delegation.

6. Communication – One way communication, downward only.

7. Discipline – Strictly enforced.

Democratic Style:

1. Decision making – Decisions taken in consultation of subordinates.

2. Motivation technique – Reward and involvement (positive motivation).

3. Focus – Group centered.

4. Role of leader – Team spirit maintained.

5. Delegation of authority – Delegation of authority as per needs.

6. Communication – Two way communication.

7. Discipline – Exchange of ideas.

Laissez Fair Style:

1. Decision making – Subordinates take decisions themselves.

2. Motivation technique – Self motivation, self-direction.

3. Focus – Individual centered.

4. Role of leader – Provides support and resources.

5. Delegation of authority – Complete delegation of authority.

6. Communication – Free flow of communication.

7. Discipline – Self-discipline.

4. Bureaucratic or Rules-Centered Leadership:

It is a type of leadership where everything is influenced by rules, regulations and procedures. The leader sets up a procedure for adhering to the rule book. All decisions are taken on the basis of rules and regulations. No deviation of set principles is allowed under all situations. The employees are not encouraged to take initiatives. Over dependence on rules and procedures brings red tapism in the working.


(i) Dependence on rules and regulations.

(ii) Decisions are taken in a framework of rules and procedures.

(iii)There is too much of paper work and always a desire to play safe.

(iv) Subordinates perform jobs in a mechanical way.

(v) New ideas and initiatives are not encouraged.

(vi) There are delays in taking decisions.

5. Manipulative Leadership Style:

Under this style the leader tries to achieve organisational goals by exploiting the weak points of employees. The needs and aspirations of employees are used as tools for achieving organisational objectives. The employees are exploited through different means for extracting more and more work from them and not compensating them for their additional efforts. Employees generally resent this type of leadership. There is a feeling of distrust when the manipulative nature of the leader is evident and the employees feel cheated.


(i) When co-operation of employees is needed urgently for a specific task.

(ii) When the projects are of short durations.

(iii) When long-term relationship may not be required.

6. Paternalistic Style Leader:

This style of leadership is based upon the sentiments and emotions of people. A paternalistic leader is like a father figure to the subordinates. The leader looks after the needs and aspirations of subordinates and also helps their families. He helps guides and protects all of his subordinates but they do not grow under him. The subordinates become dependent on the leader.

Leadership Styles – In Indian Organisations (Family-Managed, Professionally Managed and Public Sector Organisations)

Managerial styles are determined by a number of factors such as- superiors, subordinates and situations, so it may be unrealistic to expect a uniform leadership style. There may be different styles of different leaders since they are working under different organisations and situations.

Indian organisations can be classified into following three categories:

(i) Family managed traditional organisations.

(ii) Professionally managed Indian organisations and foreign owned organisations.

(iii) Public sector organisations.

Family-Managed Traditional Organisations:

These are the organisations which are managed by members of a family. Sons and grandsons of the entrepreneurs are automatically promoted to head the organisations. There is no consideration of competency, experience, skills etc., the only factor is the continuation of blood relation and inheritance. The leadership style of these organisations is mostly autocratic. These organisations become highly centralised in structure and remain authoritarian in approach. These styles are inherited by successors without much modification.

Professionally Managed Organisations:

There are Indian organisations and foreign owned organisations which are professionally managed. These organisations have democratic and participating styles of leadership. The persons who are properly qualified and competent to manage their work are assigned managerial jobs. Multinational corporations not only bring technology with them but also bring work culture which is conducive for application of modern approach of management. The degree of participation in these organisations is very high.

Public Sector Organisations:

Most of the public sector organisations have been working under different government departments. The managerial cadres were mostly taken from bureaucratic ranks. These organisations are managed by civil servants who have brought a lot of bureaucratic culture with them. The rest is that all these organisations are governed by the bureaucratic model.

The implications of this model are – status differentials, class distinctions and impersonal relationships which work against participative style. The bureaucratic styles in public sector organisations have generally hindered the growth of these organisations.