Are you in a leadership position at work? If so, you have a very important job! Leaders are critical to the success of businesses, organizations, and societies. They guide and support the people around them, helping them to deal with difficult challenges and find effective solutions.

There is generally believed to be three styles of leadership: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire.

  • Leaders who use the authoritarian style make all the decisions. They don’t ask the rest of the group for their suggestions or opinions. They clearly explain “what, when, and how” things need to be done. They’re not bossy or abusive – they’re firm and decisive. They work independently, without input or assistance from the rest of the group.
  • Leaders using the democratic style work closely with their group. They discuss the decisions that need to be made, and ask for the group’s input. They listen to the group members’ ideas and opinions, and base their decisions on what the group members say.
  • Leaders using the laissez-faire style ask the members of their group to work independently and make their own decisions. They believe that the group members know what to do, and can get things done without any assistance. These leaders must have a lot of trust and confidence in their group members because they have to accept responsibility for the decisions that their group members make.

So which style do you think is best? One style might seem more appealing to you than the others. But actually, all three leadership styles can be effective. It just depends on the situation.

  • When you have all the necessary information and it’s important to act quickly and decisively, the authoritarian style is best.
  • When you don’t have all the information, you’re working with smart people, and you have time to get their input, the democratic style is best.
  • When you have complete confidence in your group members (and other important things to do), the laissez-faire style is best.

The best leaders can use all three styles and they can adjust their style to fit the situation. So in order to lead skillfully, you need to think about the situation and the people that you’re dealing with, and then adjust your style accordingly.