Leadership Decision Making Styles

Your decision-making process and leadership style can make a direct impact on employee job satisfaction and overall happiness. While it's important to lead your group and make decisions in a way that works for you personally, you'll also want employees to avoid unnecessary union organizing as a reaction to job dissatisfaction.

With that in mind, familiarity with different methods of leading your team and making decisions can help. Here's a guide to some of the most common methods of leading and making decisions, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

1. Autocratic Leadership Style

The autocratic leadership style involves maximizing employee performance by motivating employees to achieve goals without mistakes. This leadership style often conveys an image of an iron-fisted, authoritarian figure with the only correct direction the group should follow. However, this method is effective when quick decision-making without discussion or negotiation is necessary. It also offers the advantage of keeping projects on task and can be helpful during stressful or confusing situations that require an immediate response. Despite its advantages, the autocratic leadership style can also be unproductive because it's prone to abuse by inexperienced or power-hungry leaders. It can also stifle open communication and creativity, and it isn't the best choice for a group of modern-thinking employees who thrive on these aspects of the job.

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2. Consultative Leadership Style

The consultative leadership style embodies similar principles as the autocratic leadership style but differs primarily because it involves the leader requesting input from her subordinates. Leaders who use this approach demonstrate an interest in employees' opinions, and while they may not necessarily use the suggestions subordinates provide, consultative leaders show they have enough time to listen, which employees appreciate. This leadership style can be effective for employees who want to be a part of the decision-making process but don't want to be responsible for the decisions that are made. Despite its advantages, this method is ineffective when decisions have to be made on short notice since consultation time with subordinates may be limited.

3. Democratic Leadership Style

Using a democratic leadership approach means involving the group in the decision-making process. A leader who uses this approach usually maintains the final say but is able to take advantage of the different perspectives his employees may have. This leadership style is advantageous in practicing better decision-making skills and helping employees feel they're a part of the team. Despite that, this leadership style becomes problematic when too many opinions are involved and the leader loses control of the decision-making process.

4. "Laissez-faire" Leadership Style

Frontline employees may see issues or trends that your leadership team may not be able to spot first-hand. Without this knowledge, leaders may make off-base decisions that can adversely impact the company's bottom line. The laissez-faire leadership style can help alleviate this issue. With this leadership style, leaders empower employees by giving them the ability to take responsibility and make decisions, which can help employees develop into leaders, provide employees with leadership experience, and remove the need to delegate tasks to specific individuals. However, this leadership style is ineffective for employees who don't want the responsibility, and employees may need to perform work for which they're not suited. Plus, shifting leadership responsibilities isn't possible within this framework.

Different Leadership Styles Directly Impact Employees

The bottom line, a leader's decision-making methods directly impact employees' feelings of satisfaction and job security. Where did you recognize your own style in the methods outlined, and how can you avoid the potential negatives of your natural decision-making style? Your choices make the difference in taking the right steps. And assessing which leadership style (or combination of styles) fits your organizational culture and works best for your employees can guide you to the best path for the future.

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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is Director of IRI's Digital Workplace Solutions Group, and the founder of A Better Leader. Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.