Laissez faire leadership

From CEOpedia | Management online

Laissez faire leadership (also known as delegative leadership) is a management and leadership style which is characterized by a small concern for employees, tasks and production. The manager has often no interest in the course of affairs. He leaves all important matters to employees and gives them freedom. He uses phrases like: "They have decided", "They did." It minimizes efforts and remove the responsibility to somebody else.

"Authors defines that in this style the Leaders normally don’t want their interference in decision making process. They normally allowed to their subordinates that they have power to get their personal decisions about the work. They are free to do work in their own way and they are also responsible for their decision. Normally Leaders avoids to making decision and don’t involve in working units because the leaders gives to subordinates to completely freedom to do decisions." [1]

Different definitions

"Bass and Avolio describe laissez-faire leadership as "the absence of leadership, the avoidance of intervention, or both. With Laissezfaire (Avoiding) leadership, there are generally neither transactions nor agreements with followers. Decisions are often delayed; feedback, rewards, and involvement are absent; and there is no attempt to motivate followers or to recognize and satisfy their needs" (p. 20)." [2]

"Robbins (2007) explained the laissez-fair style as "Abdicates responsibilities avoid making decisions" (p. 475).Similar Luthans (2005), defined laissez - fair style as "Abdicates responsibilities avoids making decisions" (p.562).Laissez - Fair is uninvolved in the work of the unit. It‟s difficult to defend this leadership style unless the leader‟s subordinates are expert and well-motivated specialists, such as Scientists. "Leaders let group members make all decision"(Mondy&Premeaux, 1995, p.347)." [3]

Laissez faire manager gives only minimal guidance to employees and does not attempt to achieve strict control over results. Managers delegates to subordinates all responsibility with belief that they will manage to achieve goals all by themselves. This type of leader does not have high authority within company and brings down results. It also gives the lowest productivity within group members. Lack of appropriate leadership might lead to stress among group and generate frustration. This type of leadership may lead to low or even no motivation to work.


Laissez-faire leadership includes several types of nonleadership such as:

  • avoiding responsibility,
  • not responding to problems,
  • being absent when needed,
  • failing to follow up,
  • resisting expressing views
  • delaying responses [4]

Examples of Laissez faire leadership

  • A laissez faire leader might allow employees to take initiative in their tasks and roles, and provide guidance only when needed.
  • A manager might assign tasks, but allow employees to decide how they will be completed.
  • A team leader may provide clear expectations but allow employees to find their own way to achieve goals.
  • A supervisor may provide employees with freedom to take responsibility for their own projects and tasks.
  • A leader may give employees autonomy to make decisions and take ownership of their work.

Advantages of Laissez faire leadership

Laissez faire leadership has some advantages:

  • It encourages employees to take initiative and be creative. Employees are given autonomy and the freedom to make decisions, so they are more likely to take risks and come up with innovative solutions.
  • It allows employees to develop their skills and understanding by providing them with independence. Employees are able to use their own judgment and expertise to make decisions, therefore they are constantly learning and growing.
  • It reduces stress on the leader as they don't have to micromanage their team. The leader can trust their team and let them take care of tasks on their own, which allows the leader to focus on other areas.
  • It allows for faster decision-making as the leader doesn't have to be involved in every decision. Employees are given the freedom to make decisions quickly, without having to consult the leader.
  • It promotes an atmosphere of trust and respect between the leader and their team, as the team is given the autonomy to make decisions. When employees feel trusted, they are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work.

Limitations of Laissez faire leadership

Laissez faire leadership has several limitations that should be considered. These include:

  • Having little to no involvement in the decision making process, laissez-faire leadership can lead to a lack of direction and coordination amongst the team.
  • Without clear instructions and guidelines, employees may be confused and uncertain of what is expected of them.
  • There is a lack of accountability since there is no clear leader to be held responsible for any mistakes or errors.
  • This type of leadership may lead to a lack of motivation since there is no recognition or feedback from the leader.
  • Laissez-faire leadership can lead to a lack of innovation since employees may not feel empowered to try new ideas or take risks.
  • Without a clear leader, it may be difficult to resolve conflicts and make difficult decisions.

Other approaches related to Laissez faire leadership

One related approach to Laissez faire leadership is servant leadership. This approach focuses on providing employees with the resources and support they need to do their jobs effectively, and is based on the idea that the leader is there to serve the team. This approach is often characterized by a focus on developing relationships with employees, fostering collaboration, and demonstrating humility and compassion.

  • Autocratic leadership is another approach related to Laissez faire leadership. It is characterized by the leader making decisions without any input from the team and with little regard for their opinions.
  • Participative leadership is also related to Laissez faire leadership, as it encourages employees to participate in decision-making by providing them with the opportunity to give input and feedback. This approach is based on the idea that teams are more effective when they are allowed to contribute their ideas and opinions.
  • Transformational leadership is another approach related to Laissez faire leadership. It focuses on inspiring and motivating employees through the use of clear communication, setting challenging goals, and recognizing and rewarding achievements.

In summary, approaches related to Laissez faire leadership include servant leadership, autocratic leadership, participative leadership, and transformational leadership. Each of these approaches has its own unique characteristics and advantages, but all of them focus on empowering employees and providing them with the resources and support they need to succeed.

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  1. Javed H. (2012). Impact of Transactional and Laissez Faire Leadership Style on Motivation International Journal of Business and Social Science , Vol. 3 No. 7
  2. Skogstad A., Einarsen S., Torsheim T., Aasland M. S., and Hetland H. (2007). The Destructiveness of Laissez-Faire Leadership Behavior Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol. 12, No. 1, 80-92
  3. Javed H. (2012). Impact of Transactional and Laissez Faire Leadership Style on Motivation International Journal of Business and Social Science , Vol. 3 No. 7
  4. Hinkin T. R., Schriesheim C. A. (2008). An Examination of "Nonleadership": From LaissezFaire Leadership to Leader Reward Omission and Punishment Omission Cornell University, School of Hospitality Administration

Author: Natalia Pęgiel