Summarize the five styles of leadership: autocratic, bureaucratic, diplomatic, participatory, and free-rein. Which style is your personal favorite?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The Lewin Leadership Styles (LLS) were first proposed by Kurt Lewin in 1930, in order to differentiate among different leadership techniques based on the the leader's personality. 

In alphabetical order they are:

1. Autocratic-

As the word implies, the autocratic leader is essentially "automated" and self-centered. This leader does not believe in teamwork nor on delegating or consulting. This is negative for team spirit (esprit de corps) and will result in low morale. 

2. Bureaucratic-

This is the "by the book" leader whose style is too cut and dry to accept flexible thinking or "out of the box" planning. They are useful leaders to focus on the minutiae that often surfaces in workplaces regarding rules and regulations. They would be the go-to person to interpret directions and create rigor. However, this is just about all that they can do impressively. 

3. Diplomatic-

A much better leader than the previous two, the diplomat aims to resolve conflict, problem solve, abide by rules, find common ground, and still follow the rules. To be this kind of leader one must really know people and what to expect of them. Moreover, this type of leader is excellent at facing confrontation because they have a natural ability to get to the point and avoid taking things personally. It is a rarely seen style, or yet one very special people are only capable of doing. The problem with diplomats, though, is that sometimes they may overlook certain things in order to get a problem defused. Sometimes political correctness is not the best policy.

4. Participatory-

These managers are the opposite of autocratic. These are de-centralized managers who invite the opinion of others, accept criticism, take votes, and appreciate input. The rationale, according to theory, is that these managers have led for a long time, or have enough control of their ability, to know how to man a ship and take control when the group loses it. They enjoy their jobs enough to take an active part it it without feeling threatened or intimidated. They are team players who set the example.  

5. Free Rein- 

Also known for the French laissez-faire, this style of management entails that the subordinates are not directly checked consistently by their supervisor. This is because this leader is more of a facilitator who offers the rules and tools and trusts the judgement of his or her employees.

No monitoring, and no pre and post measuring is involved. Many current companies where the staff works independently as experts in their own fields (such as coders, computer programmers, etc) may experience free rein types of jobs precisely because the nature of their tasks is so independent and high-skilled that there is no need to be monitoring them consistently. The problem with free rein is that the employees MUST be experts and independent enough NOT to NEED the monitoring. Other than that, it would be problematic not to have monitoring in place. 

Ideally, we all would want to work in a free rein environment where we are not controlled nor observed. However, when working in a big workplace with people of different walks of life, you want to have someone who is firm and disciplined enough to know how to put unruly people in their place.

Personally, I like participatory leaders. I like those because they really tend to help you find the fun in what you do. After all, if the leader is still willing to get down and dirty with the rest of the group, it must be worth trying. It is also setting the example, showing humility, and taking part of the action. 

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