Lewin’s Leadership Styles | Advantages, Disadvantages and Framework

We are all aware of the fact that teams act according to the leadership they have.

There are various types of leadership in this world. Similarly, there are numerous companies and groups which need leaders and leadership according to their need. It depends upon the strategies of a company which will give them options to choose which kind of leadership is best suited for their work.

It is not required to stick to a single leadership style; one can always change or jump towards another. It’s all up to the company, the leadership which benefits and makes the company progressive, it the best for it. Or else, if you as a company have opted for leadership and it doesn’t work and progresses as per your needs, you can always change it. Choose any other by consulting one another. It will benefit the growth and development of the company or even a small group.

Also, talking about the leader- if a leader sticks to one side of contemplation and doesn’t respond according to the situation, or he/she doesn’t want to make the changes around them, then he/she can’t be a good leader. It takes a lot of effort and struggles to be a leader.

In the 1930s, Lewin’s Leadership styles framework came into existence.

And still, it is incredibly preferred. The strategies present in different types of styles makes it relevant to use according to the needs of the group.

There are three different types of leadership in Lewin’s Leadership Styles Framework which make if effective and easy to differentiate.

  1. Participative or Democratic Leadership
  2. Authoritarian or Autocratic Leadership
  3. Delegative or Laissez-Faire Leadership

Depending upon the situation, you can choose anyone which is perfect for your organization. Also, you should make it very clear before selecting any. If you don’t read about the lead before you choose any, then it can lead your organization into a big problem.

Therefore, it is crucial to pair up your organization with the best leadership according to the situation in your group.

Now, let us discuss each type of leadership style in detail.

Participative Leadership (Democratic Leadership) in Lewin’s Leadership Styles Framework

One can already guess from the name of this leadership. This leadership has a leader who will be a part of this leadership and get to operate with the employees. This process is way too cooperative and collaborative in terms of leadership than others. The work of this leader is to make decisions and to be in change.

Workers of the team are encouraged and motivated to provide their feedback and their ideas. Always for productivity and efficiency of the group. Then, if the plan or feedback of the employee is good enough, it can be taken further for the benefit of the group by the leader. It is considered only when the leader approves of the idea.

Also, this type of leadership is most appreciated by the workers of the organization. Since the leader also works as a group instead of being bossy and passing orders.

At the same time, this leadership doesn’t always work with every organization. An inexperienced team can never work well with this leadership. The absence of experience in the leader can never lead to success in this leadership. It can be a significant problem if inexperienced members are added to this leadership.

On the other hand, if there is a lot of enthusiasm and members are reasonably experienced, it can do better. This leadership can work best with this group. The members and the leader are knowledgeable enough to increase the growth and productivity of this group.

Advantages of Participative or Democratic Leadership 

Advantages of Participative or Democratic Leadership

  1. Increases collaboration and decreases competition- Since this participative leadership is more about participation, it promotes collaboration. Also, the leader participates, which helps the team members to remain optimistic.
  2. Creative solutions are encouraged- This style has an entirely different approach from autocratic culture. Here, employees are encouraged to think of new ideas, come up with solutions to a variety of problems on their initiative. As a consequence of this, more unique and new ideas are presented in the industry.
  3. All the employees can be given distinct responsibilities to work upon to ensure that the team members are all at the same level. Responsibilities help in challenging them; this way, they can set bars for themselves to measure their growth and state of skill.
  4. Chances of severe failure are minimal. It happens to be so as discussions are carried out before any sort of decision is made. Because of this, there are fewer chances of disastrous decisions being made by the leader.

Disadvantages of Participative or Democratic Leadership 

  1. The process of decision making is tortoise paced. They happen to take a long period to be implemented or come under effect. It becomes a barrier when acquiring the first-mover advantage is vital.
  2. A leader decides the vibe and pace of the employees at the workplace. It has become very evident, looking at all the various leadership styles. However, it may sometimes happen that a leader is unskilled or does not contain enough knowledge or experience to be able to head a team. It certainly creates situations of difficult times. A weak, incapable or unsure leader often tends to hide this by authorizing the members of the team to make all the decisions themselves.

Creativity is about thinking and looking for different ideas. The same goes for this leadership. The members are encouraged to think differently. This leadership empowers employees to use creative approaches to develop more effective and productive work.

Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic Leadership) in Lewin’s Leadership Styles Framework

Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic Leadership) in Lewin’s Leadership Styles Framework

This leadership is also known as autocratic leadership. There is no consult with other members of the organization before taking any decision. The decision is self-made by the leader only. Therefore, this leadership receives dissatisfaction from the members.

These leaders are often correlated with dictatorships. Since it is about commands and orders, this leader doesn’t pay much attention to the members. Neither does he/she take any feedback or uses from them.

There is very little exchange of thoughts between the leader and employees. The leader passes down tasks and assignments to the workers and gives instructions. Therefore, it has both positive and negative impacts.

Talking about the positive impact, it is an effective way of trading with an unskilled team. As the leader takes responsibility to make decisions, it won’t bother the productivity of the organization. Therefore, a team that is of individuals who need instructions to work, this leadership is best.

Also, an inexperienced team can somehow harm the efficiency of the group. So it is better than a leader leads this group.

Advantages of Authoritarian Leadership 

Advantages of Authoritarian Leadership

1. Not bothers the members much 

Since the entire responsibility of decision-making is on the leader, it is easy for other members. It gives less stress to the other members of the group. Even the manager isn’t bothered. This leadership is more about the work of the leader than other members.

2. Decision-making takes less time 

As we know that in this leadership, the decision is sudden and should be accurate. And can only be taken by the leader. No consultation with other members is required. Therefore, it makes it easy, and no confusion is created by others while taking any decision. It can be instant.

3. Managers are well motivated

A leader who keeps an eye always on his subordinates ensures that the managers are motivated throughout the duration they are engaged in performing a specific assigned task.

Managers keep straight due to this style and cut no slack in their work, or the working hours. After all, no one wants to be in the bad books of the leader.

Disadvantages of Authoritarian Leadership 

1. Communication is often unidirectional

At times when there is communication happening in one way only, the employees tend to become frustrated over time. Nobody likes to be on the receiving end all the time. Further, if that too is only to pinpoint a mistake, then never.

Criticism is a sensitive issue at the workplaces and must not be overdone.

2. Fear and Resentment

Employees, exceptionally experienced employees, don’t like to be bossed around or, being criticized far more than being appreciated is a far-fetched thought. Because of this type of behavior, the work environment many times becomes more like that of fear and resentment.

3. Dependency Culture

In an autocratic leadership style, the employees are bound to become dependent on their leaders. As leaders take all authority for every possible thing, the employees become restricted to function as per their preference.

It violates the personal needs of employees, their ideas, and makes them feel unvalued. They can certainly not take their own decisions, propose new ideas, but only listen to the commands. It often leads to making the employees lousy, disinterested in their work since they lack involvement due to the leadership style.

Delegative Leadership (Free Rein Leadership) in Lewin’s Leadership Styles Framework

In this leadership, the leader is a bit free from the job. As we have studied in autocratic leadership, the most important task is of leader, without any consultation. Meanwhile, in this leadership style, the leader isn’t bothered much.

The leader here leaves his team to do whatever they think is better for the group. As looking from an employee’s eye, this one is best for them as they can do the work and be productive. They will only ask for help from the leader when there is a need. No other interference of the leader is entertained in this leadership.

Here, the leader’s work to provide the tools for completion of the task given to employees. Employees are encouraged to work on their own. Also, it depends on the entire workplace to opt for any decision.

Although it is up to the workers to report the decision to the leader, it is the leader’s responsibility to either approve it or not. It depends totally on the leader if he would go with the decision made by workers or ask for another one.

This leadership gives freedom to other members of the organization. It helps them keep motivated and boosts up their enthusiasm. Not much involvement of the leader in every other task can help them be creative in their ways.

Advantages of Delegative Leadership

Advantages of Delegative Leadership

1. The leaders here know when to support the members

Since you know, there isn’t much involvement of other members, but when needed, they can back away from them.

Sometimes when they have an inexperienced team, it depends upon the leader how he manages to work effectively. So the leader helps the members in the time if needed.

2. Individuals contributions are valued 

Yes, in this leadership, the best part is recognition. Each member of the group is allowed to work as per their area of expertise. They can work according to their creativity and thinking. It gives them opportunities to grow and improve their work.

3. The compilation of work is much less for the leader

As the leader in this style assigns work to the employees and defers all the responsibilities, there is less work left for the leader to do. He is expected to engage well with the team members and maintain a healthy atmosphere, free from conflicts of interest or heated arguments.

This way, a leader manages the team well, without much stress. He also gets sufficient time to evaluate the tasks, plan goals for the future, and add value to the organization.

Disadvantages of Delegative Leadership

1. Higher levels of stress for the employees

As the leader distributes all the work amongst the employees, to make decisions, think of new ideas, resolve issues, it gets very stressful for the employee to function in such a tense atmosphere.

The stress can even be because of not feeling valued or secure enough in their organization. In addition to this, they might also be stressed due to being uncertain about their abilities since there is no supervision done by leaders to tell what is right and what is not.

2. Lack of ownership

Given all the freedom to the employees, there is a lack of ownership and management. Because of this, there is no one to either take the credit or blame in scenarios of success or failure.

Final Thoughts about Lewin’s Leadership Styles Framework

By reading this entire article on the Leadership styles of Lewin, we can get what types of leadership are there. Each one of them is explained with their advantages to make you understand better.

If you want your company, or organization to be a successful one, then choose the leadership which has the best strategy according to your workplace.

Confusion between these leaderships led to unsuccessful businesses. It could be a massive mistake if you choose a leadership according to your preference and not as per your organization. Since it is crucial to look upon each point about the role of workers and leaders to make sure you are choosing the best one.

Also, it’s better to change the leadership styles in your company as per need. You shouldn’t just stick to one which you chose initially. It might be right for you till now, but if you there is another one which can work more efficiently for your organization, don’t think about the risk. You can manage it, but only if that leadership will work.

Each kind of leadership has its features and aspects. If the leader is to make the decision, and the members are inexperienced, the autocratic leadership works best. On the other hand, if the company is moderately experienced, then you can go for participative leadership. Similarly, if the members are well qualified and creative, then you can choose delegative leadership.

What are your thoughts about the different leaderships in Lewin’s Leadership Styles Framework? Share with us in the comments below.