Want to learn about laissez faire leadership? In this post we deep dive into one of lewin’s leadership styles – Laissez Faire leadership. Find out what it is, it’s characteristics, examples & more.
Laissez faire leadership
Laissez Faire leadership is a type of leadership where trust and confidence are showered by the leaders on their team or subordinates. The focus is on enabling the team to actively participate in decision making and collaboration. It is one of Lewin’s leadership styles.
In this article, we will discuss the laissez-faire leadership definition along with similar types of leadership styles.
Also read: 21 irrefutable laws of leadership
What is laissez faire leader?
A laissez faire leader empowers and motivates employees or the team to be creative and responsible in conducting their activities and tasks. They never micro-manage the subordinates and forces work on them. He or she encourages the team to take up decisions on their own and intervene only when any crisis or risk is predicted. The overall ownership is with the laissez faire leadership but the people are motivated to resolve problems on their own. Guidance is offered to the team in minimal form as and when required. The team is inspired to utilize the resources and intelligence to achieve the goals and objectives.
Laissez faire leadership definition
Let us now define laissez faire leadership.
Laissez faire leadership definition states reliance on the team, empowering and authorizing them to decide on the actions and tasks. It is alternatively known as hands-off leadership. The employees are permitted to bring in their creativity and innovative thoughts and ideas in their activities. They decide on the resources that need to be deployed to reach the mission, vision, and goals of the organization. In a laissez-faire approach, the leader provides constructive criticism to the team for corrections and improvements. The employees feel the urge to demonstrate their excellence in their jobs.
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5 attributes of laissez-faire leadership style
In this section, we will deep dive into the characteristics and key attributes of the laissez-faire leadership style. The attributes will guide you in understanding how you can deploy such a style in your company; if you are willing to. You can segregate the pros and cons while finalizing your decision.
1. Delegative leadership style
In this delegative leadership style, the laissez faire attitude is to assign or entrust employees with all the tasks and activities. The employees are granted the responsibility to pursue their tasks within the stipulated time, by deploying all the requisite thoughts and ideas. Proper delegation is needed for an efficient and effective workplace.
2. Constructive criticism by laissez faire leader
Though a laissez faire leader empowers the employees with all the authority and responsibility in decision making; yet constructive criticism is a must while reviewing the work on completion. This is very much crucial for ensuring quality and effectiveness. After all the overall performance and productivity need to be controlled and monitored by a leader.
3. Need basis control by laissez-faire leader
A laissez-faire leader must plan to step in and assume control whenever there is a need. It can be a crisis situation or chance of a potential risk with medium or high impact. Besides, there can be chances of schedule slippage. Such situations do need interventions.
4. Empowering with freedom in laissez faire management style
In laissez faire management style, empowering the employees with the freedom to apply their thoughts and ideas to plan and organize the tasks is a vital attribute. The key aspect of laissez faire leadership is to built-in self-confidence among the employees in executing their work and achieving the goals.
5. Provision of adequate resources in laissez faire leadership style
In laissez faire leadership style, you must ensure to provide appropriate resources to the employees. This is to make sure they are able to complete their work without major hassles. They need to be aided with data, information, infrastructure, connectivity, communication, tools, etc. to perform their tasks smoothly and seamlessly.
Advantages of laissez faire leadership
By now, you have understood delegative leadership definition and laissez faire leadership characteristics. In this section, we will discuss the advantages of adopting hands off leadership. The following sub-sections will help you in decision making on which leadership style to adopt while running your company or business.
1. Accountability in laissez faire approach
In the laissez faire approach, accountability is considered to be one of the key advantages. The employees are equipped with the responsibility for their success as well as failure. They also need to overcome the challenges in achieving the objectives. Hence they are dedicated and focused on their work.
2. A delegative style of leadership is useful for retention
A delegative style of leadership is useful for retaining employees. The very reason being the majority of employees in an organization expect leaders to entrust them with authority and responsibility for executing their work. Besides in laissez faire decision making is also encouraged within the employees; thus they remain dedicated to the organization.
3. Known as instrumental leadership for instilling motivation
In this instrumental leadership style, one of the biggest advantages is that the employees are self-motivated. Since they are empowered, the urge to complete the work in time with greater productivity is very high. They set the goals and ensure completion as per the deadlines.
4. Consultative leadership style promotes a relaxed work environment
In consultative leadership style or in laissez faire management, there are less strict rules and norms. The employees feel relaxed and comfortable working in such an environment, This spurs up the motivation, self-interest, and dedication of the employees. The productivity is bound to increase in such a hands off management style.
5. Laissez-faire management generates creativity
Laissez-faire management and leadership style promotes creativity and innovativeness among the employees. Employees are encouraged to think out of the box and strategically for improvisation and better productivity. Also, it helps in cultivating teamwork and team bonding to achieve the objectives collectively and in a collaborative manner.
Disdvantages of laissez faire leadership
The disadvantages of laissez faire leadership are minimal. In fact, the advantages score higher when it comes to the definition laissez faire leadership style. Still, it is better to be aware of the cons and be prepared for them.
- Must not be deployed with new joiners or less experienced professionals. Such individuals need proper guidance and mentoring to plan, organize and complete the assigned work. Leaving them alone, may not turn out to be fruitful.
- Sometimes less support or control from leaders may result in de-motivation or lethargy among employees. Many professionals look upon the leaders for leading from the front.
- The absence of an organized leadership and hierarchical structure may not be good for big long term programs
Other terms similar to laissez-faire leadership
In the above sections, we have discussed one of the leadership styles laissez faire, its definition, attributes, pros, and cons. Now let’s focus on some other terms which are similar to laissez-faire leadership for wider knowledge. These terms are related to leadership styles too.
1. Delegative leadership
In a delegative leadership style, the leader permits subordinates to make decisions and he or she takes a backseat. The leader, similar to laissez faire leadership, grants freedom to the team to leverage resources on their own and utilize their expertise to fulfil their commitment. Employees working under such leadership are also expected to resolve problems on their own.
2. Consultative leadership
The consultative leadership style focuses on team building. The leaders discuss with the team and ask for their suggestions and opinions on critical issues and programs. They ensure the team is informed on all crucial and strategic decisions. The target is to create leaders from the team, by sharpening their skills and talents.
3. Free rein leadership
Free rein leadership is the other name for laissez faire leadership style. Hence free rein leadership definition focuses on empowering the team or subordinates with the responsibility of executing the activities as per their discretions. Though monitoring by the leaders will be there, yet the team is granted free rein to work on their own.
4. Delegator leadership style
In the delegator leadership style, the leaders entrust or delegate work to their subordinates or team. Though the overall responsibility stays with the leader, the team focuses on the activities delegated to them. This aids the leaders to concentrate on strategic initiatives while handing over the tactical work to the team.
Also Read: Team Building | Everything you must know
5. Hands-on leadership
Hands-on leadership emphasizes curating new plans, programs, and approaches at a strategic level. The ideas are then circulated within the team for implementation. Feedbacks, comments, and suggestions are invited from the team. The objective of the leader is to work on the vision and mission of the company while stressing the importance of viewpoints of employees.
6. Passive leadership
In the passive leadership style, the leaders intervene or assume control when the errors, risks, or issues tend to transform into a bigger impact on the organization. Actions by the leaders are avoided till then. Thus maintaining a status quo as long as the problems are not serious.
7. Permissive leadership
In permissive leadership, the decision is entrusted to the employees or the subordinates. A high level execution framework is created by the leaders to guide and assist the team. But the ownership for completion with efficient productivity and ensuring the deadlines are met, are the responsibilities of the team.
Also Read: Democracy at Work | A comprehensive guide
Laissez-faire leadership examples
Lets us now discuss some of the laissez-faire leadership examples to understand the concept of laissez faire leadership better.
- An owner of a property is allowed to plant any flowers or other vegetation without permission from the city authority
- A team lead suggesting to modify the team structure and which is accepted by the leader, allowing to go ahead and implement as per the team lead’s discretions
- A good laissez faire leadership example is to allow team members to create a plan for implementing the strategic vision of the company
- Laissez-faire leadership in nursing is a good example where the nurses, after receiving training, are free to look after the patients at their will
Famous laissez faire leaders
Here are some of the famous laissez faire leaders who followed laissez faire leadership styles :
- Herbert Hoover – 31st American president
- Queen Victoria – The Victorian era is known for laisses-faire leadership style
- Warren Buffet – American philanthropist, investor and business magnate
- Steve Jobs – Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Apple
Kuntala is a versatile writer with a focus on diverse areas around work, productivity, collaboration at work, hiring, management, HR, and training. Her background of past experience in technology and consulting helps in molding razor-sharp insights into the research and user-focused content she creates. Professionally she is an IT consultant in a sales role and also a writer of short stories and poems, travel blogger, and fashion influencer.