1.1 Background to the Study
The classical representation of leadership is that of a top executive in the organizational management. This person is responsible for controlling and directing all the operations within the business. The organization has a well defined bureaucratic structure, and each person in this hierarchy is tasked with well-defined roles. This fixed structure was sufficient to ensure the smooth running of the organization. Today, however, this well-defined structure is continually proving to be insufficient especially when the organization's success is a priority. Organizational culture has deviated from the era where it was enforceable to the current need to develop and cultivate the same. Several factors such as the entrance of newcomers in specific markets make it necessary to adopt a flexible leadership style for the sake of relevance and sustainability. Leaders must be creative in their approach to their responsibilities, and this includes the use of the most appropriate leadership style as applies to the presiding market structure. According to Asrar-ul-Haq & Kuchinke (2016), business operations are more complicated than they were in the previous years and this makes it imperative for the leadership within an organization to demand the participation of the members from all the levels within the firm. Unlike in the past where stakeholders and the top management were deemed as the most important people within a company, it is as misleading as it is catastrophic for leaders to apply the same approach. Further, Asrar-ul-Haq & Kuchinke (2016), indicate that leadership styles are essential determinants of employee performance.
Leadership styles refer to the approaches that individuals choose to motivate employees, give directives, and to implement the company's plans. They include autocratic, democratic, strategic, transformational, and transactional, among others. According to Pawar (2014), there is not a blanket style of leadership that is befitting to a particular organization. It means that leaders are free to choose from various forms of leadership depending on circumstances such as market circumstances and external and internal pressures. Also, the setting of the business concerning the type of employees largely determines the choice of style as what may work in one context may be grossly inappropriate when applied to a different set of employees (Pawar, 2014).
The wide variety of cultural groups that characterizes the population of the United States is an accurate depiction of the diversity that is depicted in the workplace. In most of the organizations, the employees are from different ethnicities, ages, and sexes. The inevitability of this multiplicity is the source of some of the challenges that leaders encounter. The advantages of workplace diversity can be felt if the appropriate leadership style is embraced. These advantages include the conception of creative ideas based on different cultural experiences and the realization of expansive target demographics. It means that it is vital that those in leadership positions evaluate the best strategies to ensure that the business environment is accommodative. The management should take an interest in the issues that foster employee productivity, even in their diversity. Further, the style of leadership is a vital consideration as it is instrumental in preventing the business from getting distracted by the negative consequences that accompany claims of discrimination or harassment.
Diversity is accompanied by sensitivity problems in the workplace. It is easy for a misplaced comment or action to breed feelings of inadequacy among employees. The issue of employee sensitivity emanates from the incorporation of diverse cultures and ethnicities; which are accompanied by various ideas that the different employees possess. Also, elements such as the differences in age and gender of all the employees may be the sources of employee sensitivity problems. The understanding of different leadership styles and the subsequent implementation ensures that issues such as racism and sexism are unheard of in the workplace. It is possible that the leadership style can either tolerate or discourage preferential treatment based on one's sex, age, or culture, among other bases for discrimination.
It is therefore imperative to thoroughly describe the characteristics of various leadership styles to determine their impact that on employee sensitivity. Of particular interest is the effects that the autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership styles have on employees sensitivity. Additionally, it is paramount to establish the sensitivity problems in the workplace that are relevant to this study as this will form the basis for the determination of the impact that each of the leadership styles bears on these.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It has been posited that leadership styles have a bearing on the attitude that employees will have on the employer. These styles are influenced by factors such as the nature of the task at hand and the allocated time. Inherently, the leader may choose an aggressive approach, and this may not augur well with some of the employees. On the other hand, the leader may opt for a leadership style that will ensure the best work outcome within the specified time and this impact profoundly on employee performance. Consequently, it can be established that regardless of the circumstances that lead to the preference for a particular kind of leadership, the chosen style affects employee performance. These styles ensure that employees understand and align their activities with the company's objectives depending on the form of leadership that they are subjected.
Further, it is possible that the characteristics of those that are subject to an individual style of leadership have a role to play in its effectiveness. The followers should demonstrate a willingness to adhere to a particular leadership style for it to be effective. These characteristics are of a broad variety including cultural values, level of skills possessed by the employees, and age, among other factors.
However, little has been reported on the contribution that these styles of leadership make to address the differences among the employees in the workplace. It is not clear whether specific forms of leadership, while they are being influenced by time and complexity of the project, factor in the differences represented by the employees mirrored by their cultural diversities or age and gender differences. As such, there is a need to assess each of these leadership styles about employee sensitivity. This study will reveal the appropriateness of such techniques to factors such as the gender and culture of the employees.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to assess the autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership styles about employees' sensitivity. In this study, the cultural and gender differences are the main elements of employees' sensitivity. The study will reveal the strengths and the weaknesses of each of the leadership styles when applied to different cultures and sexes.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
- To describe the autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership styles.
- To establish the impact of autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership styles on the employees' gender.
- To determine the impact of autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership styles on employees' culture.
- To determine the most appropriate style of leadership for a group of employees from different sexes and cultural backgrounds.
1.5 Research Questions
- What are the defining characteristics of autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire styles of leadership?
- What are the impacts of autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire styles of leadership on the employees' gender?
- What are the impacts of autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership styles on employees' culture?
- Which is the most appropriate style of leadership for a group of employees from different sexes and cultural backgrounds?
1.6 The significance of the Study
It is anticipated that the findings from this study will be significant to those in leadership positions within various organizations. These leaders will be able to characterize the types of styles hence influencing their choice distinctively. Further, this comprehension will form the basis for guiding the selection of the method of leadership that is appropriate according to the composition of the employees within those companies. This study will achieve this by clarifying the different leadership styles and analyzing the data that is collected from companies with employees of different cultures and genders.
This study focused on small companies with less than 20 employees in Kearny and with a distinctive leadership structure. The latter criteria implied that there was a leader who was of the group of employees. The study was conducted in Kearny, Hudson County. Their relatively large number in Kearny influenced the choice of small companies.
This section presents the literature review. It begins by discussing the characteristics of the autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, cross-cultural and transactional leadership styles. The chapter concludes by describing the conceptual framework which explains the relationship between the independent and dependent variables in the study.
2.1.1 Autocratic Leadership Style
The idea behind the conception and characterization of the authoritarian style of leadership was aided by Douglas McGregor's Theory X which focuses on organizational management. According to McGregor, people can be perceived in two different ways namely Theories X and Y. Theory X assumes that individuals are lazy (Mulder, 2015). This state is so innate that people cannot be naturally productive unless they are closely monitored, controlled, and coerced. In most instances, financial incentives are handy in ensuring that people appropriately respond to close supervision besides observing hierarchy (Mulder, 2015). Theory X further indicates that it is necessary to highlight the tasks that these individuals ought to accomplish and succinctly stating the consequences that accompany the failure to adhere to these instructions. McGregor's theory X and the indirect measures for governing this type of people is the basis for the autocratic style of leadership. Notably, McGregor recommends that the authoritarian method of leadership be applied in settings that demand an unmatched level of productivity.
This style of leadership gives all the authority to an individual who is the boss. This bestowment of power to a sole entity makes it easy to differentiate between the leader and the team members. Autocratic leadership, also called authoritarian leadership, hardly allows the team members to make any meaningful contributions to any course (Choi, 2007). Theirs is to follow the commands from their leaders and in most cases questioning them (leaders) is met with contempt. It is upon the leader to think, make personal consultations, and arrive at decisions regardless of the general feeling. Further, an autocratic leader hardly ever trusts their followers with essential tasks. It means that the work structure in such a setting is highly rigid. Any undertakings often follow a particular procedure, and this implies that there is little room for creativity. In some cases, changes are not welcome thanks to the clear-cut approach of handling tasks. This mistrust calls for the close supervision if the leader decides to task an employee. Also, the centralization of authority necessitates the adaption of a one-way communication channel. It means that the lead...
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