Leadership Styles: Pros & Cons (Part 1)

Leadership is a process of influencing a group people to accomplish a common goal. In organizational context, a leader is one who has substantial influences on the employees concerning how they behave, act, and perform in an organizational setting. Global leadership is a form where leader possess knowledge of global businesses in terms of social, cultural, economic, legal, technological and political aspects and familiarize themselves with the effects of these issues of globalization. Global leadership occurs a leader holds and keeps a global mindset (Bhushan and Rai, 2004). Fox (1971) labels Leadership Style as an approach of carrying out a common relationship with fellow coworkers and subordinates, which is by and large done and influenced through participatory, supportive, bureaucratic manner through which the purpose of the organization is served (Mikhailitchenko and Lundstrom, 2006; Roskin, 1989). Leaders possess particular styles of leadership and their way of managing people have significant influence on their subordinates’ way of doing things, work place behavior, work performance, motivation and job satisfaction (Waddell and Waddell, 2007). Employees’ job in the workplace is highly inclined to the supervision styles of their leaders, which accentuate the style of leadership (Khandwala, 1977). McConnell (1993) points out that the appropriateness and fittingness of a particular leadership style relies on numerous factors prevailing in the organizational environment and the existence and nonexistence of these factors are the determinants of what leadership style is to be adopted.

A numbers of different types of leadership styles have been discussed below along with their pros and cons and efficacy in different context:

effective leadership


Authoritarian Leadership

According to Whitehead and Barrett (2001: p. 156-157), Authoritarianism is stated as

… It is characterized by an intolerance of dissent or difference, a rejection of dialogue and debate, and a preference for coercive power relations based on dictatorial control and unquestioning obedience.

Husband (1975) stated that classical management theorists such as Fayol, Urwick, Gulick illustrated the concept of Authoritarian Leadership alongside the general functions of planning, organizing, motivating and controlling where the organization is structured with a top down hierarchical base and greater importance has been placed on line authority. The structure involves high formalization and strict specialization where behavior is highly regulated and employee participation in organizational decision making is extremely restricted. Gennard and Judge (2002) point towards the fact that people relationship in this leadership style is not significant at all if not anything goes wrong. De Feo and Barnard (2003) indicate that in authoritarian leadership style, the objectives to be set, the jobs to be done and the decisions to be made lie in the hands of the managers where the employees behavior is strictly controlled and the leaders expectations to its employees is ‘do what I say and as I say’ as the flow of authority and communication is principally downward. Employees can hardly exercise or have no interest in using initiatives on the job due to the fear of punishment and reprimand. The above features of authoritarian leadership style indicate its consistency with bureaucratic organizational structure where the style is very much applicable and followed (Mintzberg, 1983). The above statement is advocated by Huczynski (1992) who points out that power and control are the factors that shape the authoritarian style of leadership and bureaucracy could be seen as part of the power relationships between the controllers and controlled (Gouldner, 1954 cited in Huczynski, 1992, p. 92). In contrast, Gennard and Judge (2002) point out that this leadership style is well fitted in single owner small business firms. This is to a large extent consistent with Mintzberg’s (1979, 1983) simple organizational structure where the flow of authority is top down, the decision making process is centralized and the jobs and work behavior of the employees are coordinated through direct supervision by the chief executive or the owner-manager of the business.

It is specified by LeNoble (1993) that authoritarian leadership style is an old approach of managing and supervising employees, which is generally welcomed and extensively acknowledged by aged and mature employees while new and young workers see this style as an obstacle in exercising to their creativeness and ingenuity (Warner et al., 2005) due to the inability to participate in the decision making process for shaping processes, policies, job activities and job relationship as the authoritarian leaders do these activities by themselves and pushed them downwards to conform to them by the employees (Mullins, 2001). Metcalf (1995) indicated that employees have no right to display performance beyond what is agreed; employee has no voice; mutual trust is missing and in severe circumstances, there is no way except exit. This is on the whole discouraging and de-motivating for employees to perform well under this leadership approach (Grand et al., 1994) and staff turnover is very likely (Mullins, 2001) as it is spelled out that “… Staff are less tolerant of working conditions marred by high levels of boredom and authoritarian management styles” (Odini, 1996: p. 29). As this style does not allow employees to be adaptive, authoritarian style is highly non adaptive in changing context (Begin, 1991). For example, Medvedeva (2006) denotes that the authoritarian leadership style is seen as a major drawback in transitioning Russian economies as Russian business enterprises are moving from an old Soviet style of leadership (authoritarian) to a creative and flexible leadership approach, which is a more market oriented management practice. However, authoritarian leadership style is perceived to have some efficacy in different situations. For example, Greenall (2004) points out that authoritarian leaders have the knowledge and expertise and are experts in their fields, which is a source of power for them as Warner et al. (2005) denote that authoritarian leaders not only dictate employees what to do and how to do things but also have the capability of carrying out the tasks by themselves. Again, this style is effective in situations when activities need to be performed precisely and tasks are to be accomplished on time, within budget and fulfilling quality requirements (Albulushi and Hussain, 2008).


Paternalistic Leadership Style

According to Crossley (1999), two views of paternalism were provided where the standard view of paternalism states that a paternalistic act is conditional on the intervention with autonomy as paternalism involves most of the features of authoritarian style of leadership while the broader view dictates that the paternalistic act is intended for providing assistance and support to the people in their concern whereas Trout (2005) points out that the reason for intervention in paternalistic approach is because of the inability of the person to choose the best for him/her. Paternalistic leadership style holds a more affirmative approach to the management of employees despite encompassing most of the features of authoritarian leadership style where discussion with employees on different issues is given high preference (Gennard and Judge, 2002) that Husband (1975) points out that paternalistic leadership style is an improved version of authoritarian leadership style where employees are given a little more freedom to place their opinions in non-work related activities and employees are provided various work related incentives such as pension schemes, welfare benefits, cheap canteens and the like to meet their needs. Purcell (1987) states that organizations where a paternalistic style is in practice neither accentuate issues like advancement and career growth of employees nor lay emphasis on employees’ interests and wellbeing, which depict the justifiable aspect managerial authority. In contrast, Mikhailitchenko and Lundstrom (2006) indicate that in paternalistic leadership style, a family like relationship exists and is in practice between leaders and subordinates where employees’ family issues are given an increased attention by the leaders who repeatedly assist and support them with non-work related matters. Though more attention has been given to various employee related issues, paternalistic leadership style is a top down approach with stress on line authority (Husband, 1975) as Wellens (1980) mentions that in spite of the imposition of decisions, employees’ concerns are taken into account to some extent while decisions are made. It is also indicated that with the exception of the freedom given to the employees, employees are dictated with clear instructions of their areas of interaction, communication, and decision making.

It is established from the research of Hofstede (1997) and Hofstede and Hofstede (2005) that managers’ paternalistic approach or orientation is strongly connected with power distance, which according to Hofstede (n.d.) is a measure of uneven distribution of power perceived and accepted by the members of an organization where a less powerful member of a high power distance organization will, in no doubt, accept uneven power distribution. Banks and Waisfisz (1994) point out that employees have less feeling and reactions concerning their minimum or no contribution in decision making process as employees in a high power distance organizational culture have a very relaxed tendency with the paternalistic leadership style. This is because of the organizational hierarchical disparities. Khatri and Tsang (2003) specify that in paternalistic leadership approach managers enjoy substantial discretionary power while making decisions because of not being accountable and explainable to subordinates while Erez and Earley (1993) point out the managers’ paternalistic character is seen as a parental figure for the employees where it is anticipated that the organization will have a considerable impact in employees’ family lives. However, Shirley (1997) points out that lack of ability of managers or the unwillingness to build reliability within the employees and to ensure responsiveness towards their requirements can be a disadvantage to the paternalistic approach, which is highly de-motivating (Litrico, 2007).


Consultative Style of Leadership

The consultative leadership approach assumes that even though people are highly energetic and active in nature, the needs of the people must be incorporated in organization’s goals and for this they need to be directed. Under this leadership style, the leadership activities have accomplished to attain the organizational objectives while providing employees maximum autonomy. This is done in a way that does not jeopardize the achievement of organizational goals. Consultation with employees is given a preference where the employees are permitted to participate and give their voice in determining the tasks (Husband, 1975). Ali and Schaupp (1992: p.24) specify that

…consultative managers try to make problems clear to their subordinates and consult with them on issues related to both organizational and employee goals.

Abraham et al. (1999) point out that in consultative leadership style, even though managers grasp the power tightly in their hands, employees are extensively consulted to comprehend the impact on the actions to be taken. This is highly observable in professional bureaucratic organization where professionals are highly expert in their field while leaders are not necessarily being a professional (Mintzberg, 1979, 1983). Nudurupati (2003) indicates that where he argues that a consultative leadership style helps reduce uncertainty and improve communications due to the process of consultation in determining actions and implementing tasks.

Consultative leadership style is the most pertinent style of leadership in achievement culture (Likert , 1967) as Pheysey (1993) indicates that in achievement culture, task is given the highest priority and achievement of the task is of utmost importance through which organizational goal is achieved and this is the thing where the interest of leaders and employees lie. It is also indicated by the author that the source of power is the expertise of the leader as he/she incessantly provides direction and support to employees and encourage employee involvement in actively pursuing goals (Likert, 1967). Davis (2001) spells out that in consultative leadership approach, due to employee involvement, employees become more responsible and as a result of which managers spend very little time in task development and accomplishment as employees are already drawn in in the development and accomplishment process.



…. will be added in the last part of this article.

Posted by: Farid Ahmed



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