Different leaders prefer a particular style of leadership which they deem best. Most common leadership styles are autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, visionary, transformational etcetera (Eagly, et al., 569). Different leaders have used any of these leadership styles achieving success while others have used them and performed dismally. All these leadership styles have their main characteristics which make them fall into either aristocratic or democratic style of leadership. No matter how a style may appear different its basic qualities are either democratic or autocratic.
Autocratic style of leadership is characterized by leaders who have absolute power and determine everything that their subjects do. They have a hands-on way of governing giving their subjects little freedom to make their own decisions (Keith, 15). This style of leadership is slowly dying out because most leaders have realized it is not sustainable. Subjects eventually revolt or only work when the leader is present. This has resulted to failure and anarchy in most countries where this leadership style is in use (Keith, 17). Some styles of leadership are very similar to this one. Visionary leaders are known for their ability to come up with great ideas and implement them. There are many business and political leaders who have transformed their companies and countries by being visionaries. This leadership style may sound unique but it shares a lot with autocratic style of leadership. This is because visionary leadership requires a leader oversee the implementation of the brilliant and visionary ideas proposed (Keith, 56). Failure to do this causes the death of a company or a country. Consequently, all visionary leaders are hands-on and very demanding in most cases giving their subjects very little freedom to air their views (Keith, 56). This makes this style a subset of autocratic leadership style.
Democratic leadership is extensively used in most countries. It is viewed as the best form of governance because it allows subjects to air their views. Democratic leaders engage their subjects in the decision making process making them feel as part of an organization (Eagly, et al., 569). This kind of leadership has been lauded by many critics because of its all inclusive nature. It recognizes the ability of subordinates to contribute towards the management and also reckons that the management does not have all the ideas. Democratic governments are characterized by peace and order because citizens chose the leaders they want to govern them. The leaders may not be the best which leads to their rejection immediately another election is held. Laissez-faire is a style of leadership which is not widely used. This form of leadership gives subjects the freedom to do what they want with minimum interference from the management. There are usually fears that the subjects might misuse their freedom and wreck havoc (Eagly, et al., 569). This style of leadership has a major similarity with democratic form of government. Subjects have the power to make decisions on issues that affect. Democratic system allows the majority to choose how they want to be governed. Their choice may be wrong but they are usually happy because they had their say on the election. The same applies to laissez-faire where the subjects may misuse their freedom and wreck havoc. They won’t be very disappointed because they had the freedom though they misused it. This makes the style a subset of democratic leadership.
Steve Jobs was one of the most famous visionary leaders in the world. He introduced unique and visionary products in the market. This has brought success to Apple making it one of the most successful and profitable companies in the world. Jobs was known as a no-nonsense leader who did not tolerate failure. He was hands-on and left very little space for subordinates to contribute towards the management of the company (Interview: Steve jobs, par 5). Though a visionary, he style was highly autocratic.
Democratic and autocratic styles of leadership are the main leadership styles. The rest borrow heavily from these two making them very similar. No matter how unique other leadership styles appear, they are all inherently similar to democratic and autocratic styles.
Eagly, Alice H., Mary C. Johannesen-Schmidt, and Marloes L. Van Engen. “Transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership styles: a meta-analysis comparing women and men.” Psychological bulletin 129.4 (2003): 569
Grint, Keith. Leadership: Limits and possibilities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
“Interview: Steve Jobs.” Maclean’s Nov 14 2011: 1. ProQuest. Web. 25 Apr. 2014