Effective Leadership Styles

There are various styles of leadership that leaders may use to manage high performers. The three most common styles of leadership are authoritarian style, democratic style and laissez-faire style. Authoritarian leaders control followers strictly and closely.

Authoritarian Leaders

Authoritarianism involves regulation of policies and procedures which followers must follow (Schultz and Schultz, 2010). There is a distinct professional relationship between the authoritarian leader and his followers which gives a distinction between the two. Effective leadership in an authoritarian system involves direct supervision which ensures that there is a successful environment for high performers or effective followers. The vision of those who are in control is followed without considering the views of those who are being led. The leader is final decision maker and the followers have no say in decision making. Authoritarian leaders create an environment of fear where dialogue is not given any room, and complaining does not bear any fruit. The similarity between the authoritarian leadership and other styles such as the democratic system is that it focuses on efficiency.

Democratic Leadership

Unlike the authoritarian style where the leader bears the ultimate decision making role, the democratic style involves sharing decision making responsibilities with followers. Democratic leadership involves dialogue, sharing of ideas, and participation encouraged by group needs (Foster, 2002). This is more effective style of leadership than the authoritarian because the ideas of the followers are taken into consideration, which may result in higher performance of the managed because if they are given the power to decide, they become motivated. Furthermore, collective decision making and dialogue result in superior and more effective decisions because many ideas are brought together and the best idea is selected.

This type of leadership also involves higher levels of motivation for followers because it promotes their interests through social equality. Therefore, followers (e.g. employees) are able to perform better. However, democratic leadership style requires leaders to make decisions on who should participate in decision making. Democratic leaders are honest, competent, inspiring, intelligent, broad minded, courageous, and imaginative. These characteristics make democratic leadership style to be an effective style of leadership in terms of managing high performers.

Effectiveness of Democratic v Authoritarian Leadership

So far, it is clear that authoritarian leaders have the full responsibility of making decisions without considering the views of the followers; while the democratic leaders make decisions based on the views and contributions of followers who participate in decision making but do not have the final say. In authoritarian leadership, the leader gives his/her followers all the rights and power to make decisions (Foster, 2002). In this case, the leader delegates all the tasks to followers and provides little or no directions to them. The withdrawal of leaders may lead to lower productivity and lack of cohesiveness and satisfaction. This is effective form of leadership when followers are highly skilled, knowledgeable, experienced and educated; and they have the drive to accomplish the desired results of their work.


It is clear that the three forms of leadership differ in terms of power of decision making given to followers. The most effective style is the democratic style because the followers can participate in decision making, but they do not the final says in decision making. Control and guidance by the leader enhances cohesiveness effectiveness of job performance and decision making.

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