During the 1930’s, Kurt Lewin led a team of individuals on a research project that was designed to develop an understanding of basic leadership styles. They published their findings in 1939, and the results were extremely fascinating. Those results are still studied and utilized to a substantial degree to this day.
Leadership Styles Defined By Kurt Lewin
Any research conducted on the various leadership styles in play in this day and age is going to utilize information that was culled from the study conducted by Lewin and his team. Even a brief overview of that information is certain to include the following:
1. The published results of the study conducted by Lewin and his associates indicated 3 generic forms of leadership. These forms of leadership are designed to explain how someone in a leadership role might make a decision.
2. The first form of leadership covered in the study was referred to as autocratic. This leadership style believes in giving orders, and having those orders followed without question. It typically does not seek the counsel of others. Communicating with autocratic leaders can be seen as something of a one-way street. It is said that this type of leadership is best suited to situations in which input is not needed. It allows for quick decisions to be made, but it eliminates the potential good that can come out of collaboration.
3. The second form of leadership explained in the study was referred to as democratic. This leadership style believes that others should be involved in the decision-making process. The leader will ultimately make the final decision, but that decision will have some degree of influence from the advice and opinions of others. While this style of leadership can motivate those working under the direction of the leader, the decision-making process can sometimes be slower than the situation demands.
4. The third form of leadership that was featured in the study was referred to laissez-faire. This type of leadership minimizes direct involvement, instead letting those under the direction of the leader make decisions for themselves. This type of leadership is notable in the way that it allows individuals to utilize their full talents and feel empowered. The main drawback to this leadership style is that it is only effective when subordinates are fully capable of making their own decisions.
Lewin’s study suggested that the democratic leadership style is perhaps the most effective one. However, the study added that it is ultimately up to the person in the leadership role.