The approach that a manager applies in running an organization and in discharging all the total responsibilities that entail management and leadership is determined by the type of leadership style that the manager adopts. Consequently, the type of leadership style that a manager is likely to adopt in a workplace is determined by what the German psychologist, Geert Hofstede described as power distance which is a function of culture and attitude (1977). Indeed the approach that a leader adopts to manage people is largely influenced by the attitude of the manager towards employees and the personality type (Hofstede, 1977).
Leadership styles refer to the approach that a manager adopts to exercise authority in the workplace and be able to direct staff towards meeting the organizational mandate as outlined in their job descriptions (Foti, 2007). Leadership styles have just recently been advanced and well understood; it was not until 1939 when, Kurt Lewin as the lead researcher was able to provide a well documented and thorough research of leadership theories at the time in a study that formed the first framework and reference of future studies on leadership theories and styles (Tannenbaum and Schmidt, 2008). The currently available literature on leadership theories in the context of the modern organization is still varied in terms of the numbers of the main leadership theories. In the journal of Harvard Business Review, Schmidt and Tannenbaum have summarized the four common leadership theories that can be identified in modern organizational leaders as autocratic, democratic, leissez-faire, and bureaucratic (2008).
One of the most effective leadership styles is referred as democratic leadership also referred to as participative style since it strives to involve employees in organizational management and decision making. In this type of leadership, a manager understands that employees are more informed in some instances than their leaders and can therefore provide valuable insight that can enable informed decisions at the management level (Tannenbaum and Schmidt, 2008). It makes an employee feel important and appreciated at the workplace and is, therefore, a very motivating method of running an organization. An example of this leadership style would be seen where employees are given much leeway to undertake their duties and participate in decision-making processes.
Involving employees in organization management and decision making serves two important functions; one, it imparts skills in their routine job requirements, and secondly, it serves to groom them for their next career level within the organization. However, this style is only effective in organizations where employees are skilled and very knowledgeable in their areas of specialty since they are less likely to make work-related mistakes that might be costly to the organization which would also mean they would not require constant follow up (Tannenbaum and Schmidt, 2008).
Indeed, various research studies indicate there is a causal association between employee motivational levels and the management style of their leaders. Hofstede was also able to arrive at a slightly similar conclusion by observing that positive leaders are likely to adopt the democratic or Leissez-Fare style that places much trust in employees and sets to achieve motivation through providing rewards (Hofstede, 1977). While negative managers on the other hand are more predisposed to adopt an authoritative leadership style that relies on threats and coercion to achieve employee cooperation and compliance. In conclusion, a good management style enables a manager to control the employees firmly while at the same time giving them a degree of flexibility on which to carry out their duties.
Foti Hauenstein. (2007). Pattern and Variable Approaches in Leadership Emergence and Effectiveness. New York: Gulliford Press.
Hofstede Geert. (1977). Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishers.
Tannenbaum, R. & Schmidt, W. (2008). How to Choose a leadership Pattern. Harvard Business Review, 733(23). Web.