Laissez-Faire Leadership

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Laissez-Faire Leadership

Have you recently been promoted to a managerial role? Or do you have a brand new team to work with at your company? Do you need to learn how to lead a team? Whether you are new to management or a seasoned professional, everyone needs a refresher course on the best ways to lead a team. According to an Inc. article written by Glen Blickenstaff, CEO of The Iron Door company, there are four types of leadership you will need to be aware of including directive, participative, adaptive, and laissez-faire leadership.

A directive type of leadership, which has been called autocratic in the past, entails making all of the decisions yourself as the manager, directing your staff to follow specific directions, and expecting employees to complete all tasks on time. The participative form of leadership has been called democratic leadership and it includes working with staff members on the decision-making process while taking an active role in making the final decisions. In this case, the manager carries out making sure that the intended results of a decision come to fruition, according to a blog post from Virgin.

Adaptive leadership is a more fluidic type of managerial approach in which the boss takes into account the environment and situation of a particular scenario when leading a team or individual. This type of leadership considers each individual staff member and their needs in terms of the type of leadership he or she would benefit from.

Liberal leadership or laissez-faire leadership entails letting a team make the vast majority of decisions. The manager spends little time being involved in particular decisions and leaves everything up to the team members. If the employees are all motivated to achieve an outcome and are able to complete the requirements, a laissez-faire type of leadership can work. If employees lack the motivation, there may be problems with a liberal leadership style. Below, we delve further into laissez-faire leadership and the type of characteristics it entails.

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Key Qualities of the Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

The definition of laissez-faire, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a “practice characterized by a usually deliberate abstention from direction.” This is essentially what management with this leadership style entails. The main qualities surrounding laissez-faire leadership are being hands-off and delegating all types of decision-making and other tasks, according to an Inc. article.

Essentially, this means the manager will assign a number of tasks to their employees and have virtually no contact or additional catch-up until the project is completed. The employees will have much more freedom while being expected to come to the manager if any questions or issues come up. Under this type of leadership, for minor problems, team members are more likely to solve issues among themselves.

The manager will not be checking in on the team members. Nonetheless, the boss is expected to provide the tools and resources needed to complete a project. Essentially, this form of leadership is the direct opposite of micromanaging and mostly involves a fair amount of delegation. It entails allowing team members to take on leading their own tasks and projects with little oversight. If the staff is motivated and hardworking, the laissez-faire leadership style can succeed at any company.

According to St. Thomas University, while laissez-faire leaders enable employees to make their own decisions regarding how to finish tasks, they still have control over finalizing organization-wide decisions. The type of characteristics employees need to have in order to succeed under this style of leadership includes experience in a particular occupation, skills, and relevant education.

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The Benefits of Laissez-Faire Leadership

A manager using this leadership style understands the needs of their team and understands the general spirit of their office. When choosing this leadership style, a manager knows whether a particular team member will succeed with a hands-off approach. The benefits of the laissez-faire leadership style include empowering employees and boosting productivity overall. This type of leadership can also help a team become more innovative and improve morale as a whole.

Additionally, employees enjoy knowing that their boss has so much confidence in them, which can inspire them to work harder than before in order to help the company boost profits and gain real results. For the managers, this leadership style and its delegation process gives them more time to focus on other high-level tasks.

The level of independence associated with the laissez-faire style can help some employees feel more satisfied with their work. This works perfectly in situations where the employees are passionate about their work and have the motivation necessary to get their tasks done. The managers first need to know that their team has the knowledge and skills necessary to complete work with the use of this type of project management. Over time, employers using this type of leadership style end up having more trust in their workers.

This sort of leadership is particularly effective in the case of the team members being experts in a particular field while the boss is less knowledgeable. Consider the mayor of a small city that has undergone severe flooding and electrical outages. In this case, the mayor would delegate rescue efforts and rebuilding to the experts.

While there are clear benefits to the liberal leadership style, there are also a number of disadvantages that need to be addressed.

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The Disadvantages Associated with Liberal Leadership

There are potential problems that have been uncovered with the laissez-faire style of leadership such as people not working together as a team and employees not working as hard as when they are being actively led by a manager.

This form of leadership will not be very effective if the team members lack the knowledge, experience, and/or skills necessary to complete a project. This will lead to less innovation and teamwork along with the potential for inferior job performance and less job satisfaction among workers.

According to the Houston Chronicle, employing this form of leadership among employees with less knowledge and fewer skills may lead to a decrease in productivity and inferior quality in the finished product. It is also more complicated to determine which person is responsible for a successful outcome if all team members are allowed to work completely on their own. Additionally, it is more complex to find out who is at fault if a project is done incorrectly when employing the laissez-faire leadership style.

There are also employees who are unable to create their own deadlines or manage projects on their own. Without guidance, some workers are also unable to solve problems on their own. Essentially, teams that receive no feedback from their employer may miss deadlines and have projects that do not meet the expectations of the manager.

In a team-based environment, the liberal leadership style may not provide enough guidance regarding role awareness and people may be unsure what exactly they should be doing on a group level. The fact that this leadership style keeps managers detached from the group means that there is a lack of cohesiveness and team members may begin to have less interest in a particular project.

This form of leadership may also be inadequate for managers themselves since they may take advantage of the laissez-faire style to avoid taking accountability for any misgivings and problems with a project among workers. If the results are inadequate and deadlines are missed, the manager may then assign blame to the workers instead of taking on some responsibility.

Some managers may also take advantage of this form of leadership to an extreme in which they may avoid a true form of leadership and become more passive in terms of project management. In these cases, the boss may no longer motivate team members and may not involve the staff in a more team-based approach to completing projects. Additionally, they may not provide any recognition for employees that have done an exemplary job.

Whether or not you employ the laissez-faire approach to leadership or take a more directive or a participative style for leading your team, you can’t go wrong by using the software platform, which will enable you to manage your team regardless of the type of leadership style you employ. Software is Useful with Multiple Leadership Styles

When considering how to lead a team and which style you prefer, you will find that software will provide you with the tools you need when using multiple different leadership styles. This software product will help you plan out and delegate tasks across your team while also giving greater transparency across a project’s timeline. In fact, in the midst of a liberal leadership style, the software will allow you to determine the team members responsible for successful outcomes and reward superior work.

Regardless of the type of leadership employed, the software can help bring greater productivity across the team, test out future goals, and allow employees to better plan out strategies. This type of software is vital when working on projects in a team-based environment. You can also test this work tracking and project management solution for free. You can start a free trial by signing up at



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