In our previous post we discussed what makes a great leader.  Today we will take this one step further by looking at different leaderships styles.  Have you ever considered your own leadership style?

There are times when a team needs to be led and times when they need to be managed.  A strong manager will be able to tailor their leadership style to suit the needs of their team to get the best results 

Tannenbaum and Schmidt created a continuum model that clearly illustrates the difference between managing and leading.  Their model shows the stages that a manager chooses to go through.  Plus the level of authority that they will retain or relinquish in the decision-making process.  

Tannenbaum and Schmidt created a continuum model that clearly illustrates the difference between managing and leading.


Kurt Lewin carried out experiments in 1939 around leadership.  This resulted in identifying 3 main leadership styles: autocratic, democratic and laissez faire 


In accordance with the continuum model, an autocratic leader will typically use manager centred leadership and move through the stages by providing clear directives and delegating tasks with little or no input from the team.  

  • This style works well with less experienced colleagues or in situations where the task is rigid 
  • Icould stifle colleagues who are able to use their initiatives and take ownership of tasks 
  • It could result in the team not being developed and not able to make decisions 
  • All the control and pressure staysolely with the manager 

Laissez faire 

A laissez faire leader will follow the subordinate centred leadership and stay firmly at the right-hand side of the continuum model. This means that they abdicate their authority by giving their team the freedom to make decisions and take full ownership. 

  • This can be great for an experienced and motivated team 
  • The team needs to be skilled and knowledgeable to make effective decisions 
  • Could be detrimental to use with a team that aren’t able to motivate themselves 
  • Could result in targets not being met and standards being poor    

What's your leadership style?


A democratic leader will also focus on subordinate centred leadership but will move through the stages towards the left-hand side of the model. This means that they work closely with their team and encourage them to contribute to the decisionmaking process but ultimately maintain the authority and make the final decision based on the ideas and contributions from the team 

  • If this is executed well then it can make the team feel valued 
  • Give them ownership of the task whilst still providing clear directives 
  • It can be time consuming to agree on objectives and tasks 
  • The team need to be invested and motivated for it to work effectively 


Although all the leadership styles have their place in management, it was concluded by Lewin that democratic leadership could be the most effective style to utilise as it can help teams to develop and grow whilst staying motivated through being actively led. 

It’s worth thinking about what your dominant leadership style is and if that’s the right one to get the best out of your team?