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Laissez Faire Leadership Style

Definition

First described by Lewin, Lippitt, and White in 1938, the laissez faire leadership style was one of three leadership types documented.  The laissez faire style is sometimes described as a "hands off" leadership style because the leader provides little or no direction to the followers.

Explanation

Lewin, Lippitt, and White were one of the first researchers to categorize leadership styles in terms of behavioral characteristics.  Prior to their work, leadership traits were the focus of leadership studies.  In addition to the laissez faire leader, this team also described the autocratic leadership and the democratic leadership styles.

The characteristics of the laissez faire style include:

  • Allows followers to have absolute freedom to make decisions concerning the completion of their work or ask questions of the leader
  • Provides the followers with the materials they need to accomplish their goals and answers the follower's questions

Related Terms

emotional intelligence, behavioral leadership, democratic leaders, autocratic leaders


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