In 1872, reigning King of Mardi Gras, Rex, chose the official colors of Mardi Gras. While folklore says he chose colors that he simply felt looked good together, it is fitting that a King would select the color Gold to represent power.
When we think of power, we may think of it in terms of politics or relationships, but there is a definite power system within the workplace structure as well. Mainly power comes into play in the workplace with how we manage our people and the leadership style we use to get results.
Three Main Types of Leaders
In 1939, researcher Kurt Lewin and his team develop the framework for three major leadership styles. Although subsequent research has added to this list, the three identified styles can provide a good springboard when defining leadership viewpoints. The three styles primarily focus on how managers and other leaders make decisions and engage with their team:
- 1. Autocratic: also known as Authoritarian, these leaders provide precise instruction for what is to be done and how it is to be done. With an autocratic leader there is a clear-cut division between boss and subordinates.Working with Others: Autocratic leaders make all decisions with little to no input from their team. They also expect those decisions to be followed with absolute obedience.
- 2. Democratic: also known as the Participative Leader, democratic leaders tend to offer guidance to team members and seek their input before making decisions. Lewin’s research found that individuals in a democratic environment brought much higher quality contributions to their team environment.Working with Others: Democratic leaders take a collaborative approach to the decision-making process. They also bear the responsibility of seeing that the decision made meet the stated objectives.
- 3. Laissez-Faire: also known as the Free Rein or Delegative leader, the Laissez-faire leader offers almost no guidance to their team. This approach may be effective in some cases when employees are high qualified and do not require supervision. However, the lack of managerial support tends to leave many problems unattended for longer periods of times and teams can become less productive in this environment due to lack of guidance.Working with Others: Laissez-faire leaders do not have any input in the decision-making process. They tend to leave everything up to their team to figure out.
In case you’re wondering, Ledwin’s research found the democratic approach to generally be the most effective leadership style. Overall, employees tend to work better with a collaborative/open environment, but guidelines are still generally necessary.
So, are you an autocratic or democratic leader? Maybe you are a combination of all three styles. Download the Leadership Style Quiz to see exactly what type of crew leader you are.