This leadership style will potentially work best, when there is no need for input, and when any input would not strengthen the outcomes of the decision.
The advantage of the leadership style is that it enables a quick decision-making process. Likewise, this leadership style may motivate the respective leader, who will be powerful enough to control employees and issue orders autocratically.
In Lewin's experiements, change from autocracy to democracy seemed to take longer than change from democracy to autocracy. Autocracy is imposed on a person, but democracy has to be learned.
The laissez-faire style is to minimize the leader's involvement in decision-making, and hence
allowing people to make their own decisions, although they may still be responsible for the
Laissez-faire works best when people are capable and motivated in making their own
decisions, and where there is no requirement for a central coordination, for example in
sharing resources across a range of different people and groups.
In the democratic style, the leader involves the people in the decision-making, although the process for the final decision may vary from the leader having the final say to them facilitating consensus in the group.
Democratic decision-making is usually appreciated by the people, especially if they have been used to autocratic decisions with which they disagreed.
In autocratic groups, there are always at least two clearly defined levels of social status: high and low. A strong barrier kept up by the former keeps the latter from acquiring leadership.
In democratic groups the difference in status is slight and there is no barrier against lower status persons acquiring leadership.
It was found that in the group with an autocratic leader, there was more dissatisfaction and behaviours became either more aggressive or apathetic. In the group with a democratic leader, there was more co-operation and enjoyment, while those in the laissez-faire led group showed no particular dissatisfaction, though they were not particularly productive either.
The way a manager chooses to lead affects the overall direction and operation of a business. Certain employees will not respond well to every leadership type. Lazy employees in a democratic leadership system may ride the tailcoats of their colleagues.
Lewin's studies on management styles had the disadvantage that, on the one hand, the test structure with children is not quite apt to be transferred to the management situation in an enterprise and, on the other hand, that the mentioned styles of autocratic and democratic management in their polarization did not allow for a gradual continuum of ways of conduct.
Lewin's leadership studies were done in the 1930s. Lewin examined three leadership styles related to forces within the leader, within the group members, and within the situation. From Lewin's studies, the leadership styles emerging wre autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire.
In 1939, psychologist Kurt Lewin gathered a group of people to identify different styles of leadership that were authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire leadership. School children were assigned with each type of leader and researchers then noted the response of children against each style of leadership.
Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) was a social psychologist whose extensive work covered studies of leadership styles and their effects, work on group decision-making, the development of force field theory, the unfreeze/change/refreeze change management model, action research, and the group dynamics approach to training, especially in the form of T-Groups.
In the autocratic style, the leader takes decisions without consulting with others. The decision is made without any form of consultation. In Lewin's experiments, he found that this caused the most level of discontent.