Comparative Analysis of the Leadership Styles

Executive Summary

Leadership is the capability to internalize the environmental setting that incorporates and empowers a group to creatively contribute towards a definite course of addressing a challenge. The main characteristics of a good leadership style include adaptability, empowerment, commitment, contribution, and critical problem-solving skills. Besides, there is a need to integrate the three approaches in system thinking in the daily running and control of organizations.

The three approaches used in leadership are life cycle thinking, stakeholder engagement, and complexity thinking. The leadership styles include autocratic leadership, democratic leadership, and laissez-faire leadership. These styles determine the efficiency and sustainability of an organization. However, each leadership style has its own merits and demerits. From the discussion, it is apparent that autocratic is the most effective leadership style followed by the democratic style. However, the least effective style is the laissez-faire approach.


Over the decades, the roles and responsibilities of managers within organizations have significantly changed (Avolio, 2010). According to Andreadis (2009), leadership style can be explained as the overall leadership approach followed by managers in an organization. Further, there are several types of leadership styles in terms of managing employees of an organization. Therefore, a leadership style can undoubtedly have a huge impact on how the employees perform.

For example, employees in multinational organizations such as Google are free to decide their way of working and their managers follow a relaxed leadership style since it is suitable within such business environments. On the other hand, government and public sector firms follow a stricter leadership style due to the high level of bureaucracy. This paper attempts to explicitly compare and contrast different leadership styles concerning autocratic leadership, democratic leadership, and laissez-faire leadership.

Leadership styles

Autocratic leadership style

According to Avolio (2010), the autocratic leadership style is characterized by lone decision-making by the management of an establishment. The leader then has the responsibility of communicating the decision to other members of the organization who must obey the decision. For instance, an organization practicing an autocratic management style in the health sector may entrust the manager to issue instructions to the employees on customer service guidelines, which must be followed.

As indicated by theory X and theory Y, the autocratic leadership style involves supervision after instructions with the belief that the employees are responsible to do what is right (Persily, 2013). This leadership style promotes proactive employee involvement since it outlines what is to be done by each employee. Besides, employees may feel motivated when the manager is proactive in the supervisory role.

Democratic leadership style

According to Andreadis (2009), the democratic leadership style involves proactive management through a consultative framework between the manager and other members of an organization. The “democratic leadership style means facilitating the conversation, encouraging people to share their ideas, and then synthesizing all the available information into the best possible decision” (Eriksen, 2009, p. 753). Generally, a democratic leadership style is associated with flexibility hence more broad and sustainable decisions. However, since this leadership style is characterized by wide consultation, it may take a very long time to reach a consensus.

The main characteristics of the democratic leadership style include teamwork, increased employee responsibility level, and the inclusion of the employees in decision making since each person is allowed to take a vote. Concerning the health care sector, the democratic leadership style has its merits and demerits. For instance, it promotes active employee participation and consultative decision-making. However, it may be characterized by slow decision-making, even during a crisis when there is a need to make radical and fast decisions (Persily, 2013).

Laissez faire leadership style

Under the laissez-faire leadership style, “the manager takes a back seat in proceedings, leaving the staff in charge of their specific sections or tasks (Baxter, 2014, p. 29). The merit of this leadership style includes improved morale among the employees since they have a high responsibility in the business. Besides, the employees may become more creative since they are allowed to apply their ideas. However, this leadership style has demerits such as redundancy, especially when the workers decide to abuse the high level of responsibility bestowed upon them. Since this leadership style does not have a structure of authority, employees may easily lose their sense of accountability and direction (Persily, 2013).

Regarding the health care sector, this leadership style is not ideal since the sector is very sensitive to changes in the quality of services. For instance, applying this leadership style in a hospital environment may attract a lot of ethical dilemmas in the provision of health care to patients since each employee will make decisions based on self-conviction and not standard rules of operations.

Comparative analysis

Organizational leadership style determines the level of participation by the employees and interventions passed through a feasibility test for implementation to initiate a cultural shift in the organization. The main difference between autocratic and democratic leadership styles is the decision-making process when faced with a situation. Democratic style functions on the parameter of an equal vote for all the personnel involved in making a decision.

The final verdict under the democratic leadership style must incorporate the views of the majority in an organization. On the other hand, the autocratic leadership style depends on a small group of experienced persons deciding on behalf of the other stakeholders and personnel. For instance, in a health care environment, a typical autocratic leadership style may be applied in policymaking and implementation of nurses’ guidelines. The nurses do not have a say on the guidelines but must follow each to the latter.

The autocratic leadership style is the most appropriate and efficient in the health care industry since it functions on the universal standards of practice. In complete contrast, laissez-faire is a more carefree form of organizational management. Unlike democratic and autocratic leadership styles, the laissez-faire approach empowers the employees to make decisions on their own with the hope that each assessment serves the interest of such an organization. For instance, in a health centre environment, a laissez-faire style involves letting each nurse make decisions on a health matter without consultations. It is the most dangerous leadership style in the health care environment.


The three leadership styles discussed in the paper are autocratic leadership, democratic leadership, and laissez-faire leadership. The most effective leadership style in the health environment is the autocratic approach since decisions are made within the standard operational practices. On the other hand, democratic style factors in the views of everyone. This might be dangerous when a quick decision has to be made in case of an emergency. The most ineffective leadership within the healthcare environment is the laissez-faire approach. It can be easily abused and likely to attract several ethical dilemmas.


Andreadis, N. (2009). Learning and organizational effectiveness: A systems perspective. Performance Improvement, 48(1), 5-11.

Avolio, J. (2010). Full Range Leadership Development. New York, NY: SAGE Publications.

Baxter, J. (2014). Who Wants to Be the Leader? The Linguistic Construction of Emerging Leadership in Differently Gendered Teams. International Journal of Business Communication, 3(4), 23-41.

Eriksen, M. (2009). Authentic Leadership: Practical Reflexivity, Self-Awareness, and Self-Authorship. Journal of Management Education, 33(1), 747-771.

Persily, A. (2013). Team Leadership & Partnering in Nursing & Healthcare. New York, NY: Springer Publishing.

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