What are the benefits of laissez faire

Laissez-faire leadership style: does loose leadership make sense?

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The work of the supervisor and the management of employees are important success factors. For a long time, an authoritarian style of leadership was widespread, but is no longer considered up-to-date. New concepts such as the laissez-faire management style are attracting greater attention. But can leadership work without real leadership? We explain what defines the laissez-faire leadership style and what advantages and disadvantages are associated with it ...

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Laissez-faire management style Definition: No leadership is leadership

The term laissez-faire is familiar to many from their upbringing. It is synonymous with letting go and not interfering. The laissez-faire management style follows similar principles. Employees should be given the greatest possible freedom, personal responsibility and scope for decision-making. Superiors do not intervene through control or hierarchy, but trust in the independence of the employees.

It is the manager's jobto support the employees - if possible without instructions or hierarchical guidelines. The laissez-fair management style should be to the benefit of the employees, but of course it also has the company's success in mind.

With a laissez-faire management style, the team is expected to be more competent and independent. It is assumed that employees do not need strict guidelines and instructions in order to be successful and perform well. Rather, they are motivated, committed and qualified enough to do this on their own.

The basic idea is also evident in the term itself: The French phrase laissez-faire means in translation "let it do it, let it go".

Laissez-fair: Differentiation from other leadership styles

The laissez-faire leadership style goes back to the social psychologist Kurt Lewin, who examined the performance behavior of young people in field experiments based on different leadership styles.

He divided these leadership styles into three categoriesthat have been supplemented over time and transferred to everyday work:

  • Authoritarian leadership style

    This style of leadership is known as hierarchical. This form of staff management leaves the employees no room for maneuver. The manager issues orders that must be followed without contradiction. Criticism is not welcome, the needs of the employees are irrelevant, because ultimately it is about the well-being of the company and the respective projects. This usually only leads to a brief increase in performance due to the control.

    For the employees, the authoritarian management style means that they do not have to worry about solving problems, because only their superiors know them. Independent thinking is not required, the sole responsibility also rests with the boss. Nobody is involved in decisions, the entire work process is under the control of the boss.

    The disadvantage here is that in the event of illness or other exceptional situations, the whole thing can lead to chaos, as nobody has even close to decision-making powers. The self-motivation of the employees is also low in the long run, as they have no opportunity to influence.

  • Democratic leadership style

    The democratic or cooperative management style is characterized by the cooperation between manager and employees. The decision-making freedom of the employees is significantly greater, since opinions and suggestions for problem solutions are heard or worked out together.

    There is open communication so that critical comments are also possible. Initiative and creativity are encouraged among employees, as is personal responsibility. This is reflected in unexpected situations in which a sudden failure can be compensated much better.

    Because the employees are encouraged, they work more independently and are more likely to identify with the company. However, decision-making processes naturally take longer if several people are discussing them than if just one person makes the decision, as in authoritarian leadership style.

  • Laissez-faire management style

    The laissez-faire leadership style is at the other end of the scale. If the employees were prescribed complete passivity with regard to decisions and responsibility in an authoritarian management style, the laissez-faire management style is characterized by passivity on the part of the manager.

    This means that this type of employee management gives employees the greatest possible freedom of action, as they organize their own tasks. There are no rules, teams control themselves to a certain extent. This means that the supervisor does not control and thus neither helps with problems, nor punishes them for mistakes.

    What may seem like heaven on earth to some employees - especially if someone suffers from a boss who does micromanagement - does not only have advantages, however.

Advantages and disadvantages of the laissez-faire leadership style

What does the laissez-faire management style look like in everyday working life? First of all, there are no exact specifications from the manager. It is therefore also the responsibility of the employees to pass on information, make decisions, delegate tasks and achieve the goals set. Errors also have to be identified, corrected and avoided in the future independently.

In an ideal world, it all happens smoothly. However, the workplace does not work under laboratory conditions. There is tension among colleagues, which leads to communication problems. Errors in the agreements can also lead to processes being hindered.

Since the supervisor largely stays out of it, unfavorable dynamics can become entrenched: operational processes are delayed, outsiders are bullied because the behavior of employees is not controlled and misconduct is not sanctioned. The advantages and disadvantages here in detail:

Advantages of the laissez-faire leadership style

  • The employees can work freely and independently.
  • In this way you can bring in your personal strengths.
  • Due to the high degree of self-determination, effective solutions can be worked out independently.
  • You have a lot of responsibility, which often increases motivation.
  • The creativity of the employees is encouraged.

Disadvantages of the laissez-faire leadership style

  • The laissez-faire management style can lead to a decrease in discipline in the company.
  • This can lead to important goals not being achieved on time.
  • There is a risk that employees will take advantage of the given freedoms.
  • A self-reliant way of working can cause chaotic conditions due to lack of plan.
  • It is typical for group dynamic processes that the desire for a leader increases in larger groups. This can lead to the exclusion of individuals and encourage rivalries among team members.
  • There is no feedback from the supervisor, so motivation and performance decline.
  • The high level of responsibility and independent decisions can lead to permanent stress and thus illness of individual employees.

Areas of application of the laissez-faire leadership style

The laissez-faire management style is particularly suitable for industries in which people work creatively. This includes various artist areas, but also, for example, the advertising and PR industry. Greater freedom is particularly valuable here and contributes to success. Employees can work independently, develop creative ideas and develop freely. Strict hierarchies and rigid structures otherwise stifle innovation and creativity in the bud.

Does the laissez-faire management style make sense?

Critics like to ask whether the laissez-faire leadership style makes sense. A frequent argument is that it is not management work at all if the employees are simply given all the freedom and decisions. It is also noted that the employer's goals may be less pursued if the guidelines from above are missing.

Basically: In extreme forms, the laissez-faire management style is difficult to implement. Too often there are situations in which clear and quick decisions are required. There are entire professional fields in which such loose leadership would not make sense at all, but would be harmful. Clear structures are required, especially in the rescue service or the fire brigade. Hand movements have to be perfect, everyone knows exactly where they are and what they do.

There is simply no time here for creative debates or general exchanges to make decisions. Kurt Lewin was also able to observe the negative effects of a lack of leadership: the results in the area of ​​interest in tasks and satisfaction were worse than in the other groups. In addition, there was frustration, discouragement, and aggressive behavior

Laissez-faire management style can therefore only function meaningfully if the employees are used to working independently, are able to organize themselves and have the necessary discipline.

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