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Leadership is practiced by leadership style. James Stoner defines leadership style as “ Styles are the various patterns of behavior favoured by leaders during the process of directing and influencing workers.” Thus leadership style is a specific way, method or pattern of a leader to lead followers. It represents leader’s philosophy, skills and attitude in practice. Some of the important theories/models describing leadership styles are given below:
A. Based on behavioral approach
B. Based on situational approach
Power orientation approach of leadership styles is based on the degree of authority which a leader uses in influencing the beahviour of his subordinates. Based on the degree of use of power, there are three leadership styles:
i. Autocratic Leadership
ii. Participative Leadership
iii. Free-rein Leadership
In this type of leadership, the leader alone determines policies and makes plans. He tells others what to do and how to do it. He demands strict obedience and relies on power. Here the leadership may be negative because followers are uniformed, insecure and afraid of the leader’s authority. There are three categories of autocratic leaders:
a) Strict Autocrat
He follows autocratic style in a very strict sense. His method of influencing subordinate’s behavior is through negative motivation, that is, by criticizing subordinates, imposing penalty etc.
b) Benevolent Autocrat
He also centralizes decision making power in him, but his motivation style is positive. He can be effective in getting efficiency in many situations. Some people like to work under strong authority structure and they derive satisfaction by this leadership.
c) Incompetent Autocrat
Sometimes, superiors adopt autocratic leadership style just to hide their incompetence, because in other styles, they may be exposed before their subordinates. However, this cannot be used for a ling time.
Merits of Autocratic Style
1. This type of leadership, when appropriate, can increase efficiency, save time and get quick results, especially in a crisis or an emergency situation.
2. Chain of command and division of work are clear and fully understood by all.
3. It provides strong motivation and reward to the manager exercising this style.
4. It maintains unity of command and strict discipline.
Demerits of Autocratic Style
1. Employee lack motivation. Frustration, low morale and conflict develop in the organisation jeopardizing the organisational efficiency.
2. The autocratic manager is alone in his decision making. He receives little, if an y information and ideas from his people as inputs into his decision making.
3. There is more dependence and less individuality in the organisation. As such, future leaders in the organisation do not develop.
4. It is not consistent with modern management theory and practice.
5. Many times. Employees have to follow wrong decisions as the style does not permit review of decisions. As a result, organisations as well as employees have to suffer.
ii. Participative Leadership
This style is also known as democratic, consultative, or ideographic. In this type of leadership the entire group is involved in and accepts responsibility for goal setting and achievement. Subordinates have considerable freedom of action. The leader shows greater concern for his people than for high production. A part of leader’s task is to encourage and reinforce constructive inter-relationships among members and to reduce intra-group conflict and tensions.
1. The leader consistently receives the benefit of the best information, ideas, suggestions, talent and operating experience of his people.
2. It provides organizational stability by raising morale and attitudes of employees high and favourable. Further, leaders are also prepared to take organisational positions.
3. The employee’s productivity is high because they are part of the decision. Thus, they implement the decision whole-heatedly.
1. Some leaders may use this style as a way of avoiding responsibility.
2. The participative style can take enormous amount of time, if not exercised properly, may degenerate into complete loss of leader’s control.
3. Some people in organisation want minimum interaction with superiors and associated. For the participative management is discouraging rather than encouraging.
4. Participation can be used covertly to manipulate employees. Thus, some employees may prefer the open tyranny of an autocrat as compared to covert tyranny of a group.
iii.Free Rein Leadership (Laissez-faire)
In this type of leadership, the leader exercises absolutely no control. He only provides information , materials and facilities to his men to enable them to accomplish group objectives.
1. Helps subordinate to develop themselves as independent personality.
2. It gives chance to take initiative to the subordinates.
3. It promotes, self motivation, self-control and self-discipline.
4. It leads to utilization of employee’s creativity and ingenuity.
1. Subordinates do not get the guidance and support of the leader.
2. Subordinates may move in different directions and may work at cross purpose which may create chaos. It can be applied only when the employees are highly capable, self-motivated, and self-controlled, Practically it is not possible.
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