The Laissez Faire management style is one that is based on delegation. Leaders which use this type of leadership tend to take a hands-off approach to decisions. They allow their team members to make the decisions instead.
Although this leadership style does tend to promote lower levels of overall productivity, like any other style, the Laissez Faire management style does have some specific advantages and disadvantages which are worth considering. There are some situations where this management style may be the most appropriate to use.
Here are some of the key elements to consider.
List of the Advantages of the Laissez Faire Management Style
1. It allows team members to maximize their own leadership skills.
Some teams have an incredible amount of combined experience. In this situation, the Laissez Faire management style allows for the team members to use those skills to help the team find success. When team members are experts in their own right, are self-disciplined to get work done, and capable of accomplishing assignments with little supervision, then the leader of that group can take a hands-off approach to be successful.
2. It provides the people with the most experience to shine.
There are times when team members may have more experience or better skills on specific tasks than the leader. In that situation, the Laissez Faire management style is more effective because it allows the person with the most experience to take the lead on a project. It is a chance for each person to offer their own knowledge and skills on specific items without compromising the leadership role for the team.
3. It creates an environment of independence.
Some workers prefer to be supervised directly, being told what they should do whenever they have questions about their assignments. Then there are workers who prefer to work independently, figure out solutions to problems on their own, and glean satisfaction from a chance to pursue their passions. The Laissez Faire management style would not work well in the former situation, but it would be quite effective in the latter.
4. It encourages team members to explore new ideas.
Although the Laissez Faire management style is sometimes seen as being lazy or uninvolved, it can be strategically applied to encourage individual innovation. That is because the team is encouraged to approach a situation with a diverse set of opinions instead of having one loud voice direct traffic. With multiple perspectives offered, the differences that come out can be discussed, which ultimately makes the team and the leadership stronger.
5. It allows individual teams to create their own environment.
People tend to be more productive when they are comfortable with their working environment. Under this management style, each person contributes something to the team environment. This gives everyone some involvement in the success of the team because of their contribution. There is freedom to develop their own unique approach, individually and as a team, which encourages people to follow their passions more often.
6. It generates more individual satisfaction for the work being done.
People tend to feel satisfied when they are successful with their work. Under the Laissez Faire management style, the independence provided allows individuals to complete tasks on their own on a regular basis. Instead of being micromanaged, they have the ability to use their own creativity to help themselves and their employer. As long as they have tools available to them to get their work done, experienced workers in this situation tend to have less stress and more happiness with their work.
7. It provides the leader to be strategic with their skills.
Although the traditional Laissez Faire management style is completely hands-off, the modern version takes a more selective approach. Leaders will also use their own experiences to the benefit of the team, choosing when and where they should get involved. They make themselves available to their teams for consultation or advice. Instead of trying to create specific rules that must be followed, leaders prefer to use their own experiences to guide people toward a correct decision.
List of the Disadvantages of the Laissez Faire Management Style
1. It downplays the role of the leader on the team.
With the Laissez Faire management style, there tends to be a lack of role awareness throughout the team. The role of the leader is downplayed because that person takes such a hands-off approach. Because there is little guidance being offered to the team, some members might try to step-in to take on a leadership role when they are not qualified to do so. It may create confusion within the team because there is no information about role placement. This combines to create a leadership vacuum which can be difficult to eliminate.
2. It reduces the cohesiveness of the group.
Managers who prefer to use the Laissez Faire management style are often viewed as being withdrawn, uninterested, and even weak. This perspective, if it shared by the team, can lead to a lack of cohesiveness over time. Some team members may even emulate the leadership style they see, becoming distant and uncaring over projects or assignments, which can lead to a degradation in the quality of work being performed.
3. It changes how accountability is assigned within the group.
Leaders using the Laissez Faire management style will sometimes take advantage of the hands-off approach to delegate responsibility over failure. Because they are away from the group, the approach is used to justify why the leader is not responsible for the issues that occurred. The leader can then blame team members, show evidence of their failure, and remove them while retaining their own position.
4. It allows leaders to avoid leadership.
When it is practiced in its worst way, the Laissez Faire management style allows leaders to avoid their leadership responsibilities. Leaders in this situation make zero effort to motivate their teams to complete a project. These leaders do not recognize the efforts being made by the team. They even refuse to get involved with their team in any way, from on-premise meetings to off-premise social gatherings.
5. It is a leadership style which employees can abuse.
Because there is little oversight offered by managers using this style of management, some workers may try to take advantage of the situation to their own benefit. They might submit false mileage paperwork to increase their paychecks. They might clock in, then go back home for the day, then return to clock out. When there is no supervision over them, an employee can choose to do almost anything, and the manager won’t step in to stop the issue since they’ve delegated tasks to others.
6. It can be difficult to adapt to changing situations.
Within the Laissez Faire management style, team members are often completing tasks on their own. That can make it difficult to have changes implemented within the scope of a project when needed because everyone is doing their own thing. The information about the change must be presented to each worker, who will then decide if they wish to implement that change. If someone decides to keep doing their own thing, there is nothing that can be done, aside from terminating employment, to force a worker’s hand to alter their approach when this style is being used.
7. It creates opportunities for employee litigation.
Many employees who find themselves fired because of their performance while working under Laissez Faire management style have a valid case for unemployment. When leaders provide no training, management, or project guidelines, then the only measurement of employee skill is project success or project failure. Terminating an employee because of project failure, while providing zero guidance on how to achieve success, could create legal troubles for the entire organization down the road.
8. It creates silos.
Although team members are able to create their own working environment using this management style, this issue also creates silos. Teams tend to stay in their comfort zone, refusing to allow other people from other teams to get involved with a project. This issue can lead to divisions in the workplace, to the extent that teams can become competitive with one another in an unhealthy way. These silos can be created on teams as well, with individuals deciding to create their own work environments as well. Once a silo is built, ti can be very difficult to take down.
The advantages and disadvantages of the Laissez Faire management style show that it can be used successfully in limited situations. When it is applied to teams that are inexperienced, however, many of the negatives seen with this leadership style tend to come out. A varied approach is often necessary, using different leadership styles at different times, to bring out the best of what a team can offer.