In today’s world full of innovations and modernization, companies need to choose the right management style and analyze available resources and opportunities. Each organization has its leaders and managers who work properly according to the established goals, missions, and visions. People prefer to use different business trends, and Facebook is one of the companies with a rich history of development and continuous growth. Marc Zuckerberg, the CEO, is a good example of combining several leadership styles from autocratic to democratic.
However, his laissez-faire approach attracts much attention and deserves recognition in most cases. At the end of 2021, Zuckerberg decided to change its name to Meta, which reflects the improved missions of the company (Rodriguez, 2021). Still, the company’s management and the essence of the work remain the same – constantly growing ambitions through laissez-faire, freedom, and novelty. Some people may think of laissez-faire management as poorly controlled or neglected, and this paper aims to discuss the major issues of this style. Despite the inability to predict the outcomes of all cosmetic changes in Facebook, the laissez-faire management style allows valuing employees, sharing responsibilities, and increasing professional skills in the field.
The official story of Facebook began in 2004 and included certain ups and downs, achievements and conflicts. When Zuckerberg was in his second year of education at college, he co-founded the company together with Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes (Facebook, 2022). In less than a year, more than one million people were active on Facebook, talking to friends and sharing news (Facebook, 2022). In a short period, a number of innovations and versions were offered to users to meet their needs online. At the end of the 2000s, Facebook co-founders participated in several court trials to prove the rights for the company. At this moment, Zuckerberg is the only chairman and CEO of Facebook, or Meta, which made him the author of his unique and successful laissez-faire management style.
Any company’s business depends on the connections that employees develop between themselves and their users. Zuckerberg may not be the best example of how to communicate with customers, as some people have compared his talking style and behavior to that of an “avatar,” describing his behavior as “uncanny” (Walker, 2021). At the same time, he is always aware of what is happening to his company, what employees should do, and when a change is required. He has a vision, and his plans and decisions are always reliable and achievable when employees do their best. The company’s staff should remember that Facebook services are available across the globe, and people trust its content. Thus, keeping regulations and managing discord between individuals are problematic for Meta (Shepard, 2018). Disinformation and lack of control are the two pressing issues provoked by the laissez-faire management style to be fixed and discussed from a managerial standpoint.
Using the history of Facebook and Zuckerberg’s achievements, in particular, the analysis of a laissez-faire management style will be developed. Management is a complex concept in business, and a number of responsibilities have to be divided according to the possessed positions, the level of knowledge, and skills. Top managers create goals and operate policies; middle managers coordinate activities and implement strategies; first-line managers work directly with employees, hire people, and supervise when necessary (Griffin, 2021). Zuckerberg is a leader who controls managers at different levels and makes sure his ideas are properly understood and implemented.
When the company was created, its co-founders demonstrated a clear laissez-faire management style – being obsessed with the same idea, all group members got total freedom. The preference of this style does not mean that there is no specific leader in the company. The point is that the leader neither participates in all decision-making processes nor offers opinions that should be discussed (Carlin, 2019). In the past, there were several successful laissez-faire leaders like Queen Victoria or President Herbert Hoover who supported individualism and encouraged trust in their teams. Thus, the chosen style is not new for the management of Facebook, but its characteristics have been changed since the previous centuries.
In addition to evident freedoms, the laissez-faire style helps leaders motivate their employees and discover the best qualities and skills necessary to complete their tasks. Instead of expecting that someone has an idea or shares a judgment, all team members are interested in sponsoring their contributions. One of recent Meta’s goals is to make the world better (Walker, 2021). At first, such a goal seems too ambitious and even fantastic for today’s populations. Many companies try to improve this world and offer the most interesting ideas for implementation regularly. It is hard to believe that one organization like Facebook could offer enough improvements and achieve success. However, it is the essence of a laissez-faire management style – people are free to develop their ideas and take steps either in groups or individually.
Personal Management Style Choice
As a manager in the selected organization, one could follow the example offered by its leader, Zuckerberg, and try to implement as many laissez-faire elements into one’s work processes as possible. Today, employees want to make sure that their ideas are heard and considered by their managers. Thus, the initial goal is to provide employees with guarantees that all their voices and opinions matter. Sometimes, it is normal not to make decisions but to wait and observe how other people, who are aware of the situation, are ready to complete their tasks and achieve the necessary goals. Through inaction, such a leader shifts the power to the workers and delegates both authority and responsibility.
Liberty is one of the main characteristics of laissez-faire management. Some researchers believe it makes this management style less effective (Iqbal et al., 2021). However, there exists an argument that this management style offers a degree of empowerment to the employees. The freedom to make decisions could be a solid contribution to personal and organizational growth. To be a laissez-faire manager can be seen not as a choice to do nothing but as an act of limited interaction for the firm’s benefit.
The role of employees is not always properly recognized in modern organizations. People think that if they do not have a well-paid job or do not have a social following, their contributions are minimal. The strategy proposed by laissez-faire management does not agree with this idea. The purpose of the manager is to underline the worth of each employee in a team and recognize their potential even if they are not ready for this discovery. The laissez-faire management style explains the benefits of not participating in decision-making and leaves the possibility for offering new, previously not considered ideas (Carlin, 2019). It is a perfect way of how a manager could help a modern company move forward, completing the functions as a manager in a team. Laissez-faire managers focus on trust and encourage teammates to rely on each other in their work. This management style is based on these two concepts, and a skilled manager can develop a strong team using this approach.
For a laissez-faire manager, it is vital not to inform employees’ actions directly. Furthermore, some managers may approach using this style discretely – without openly stating that they do not want to contribute to the decision-making process. Here, the intention is not to permit workers to do what they want to but to observe if their level of creativity and experience is enough to develop the company. Deliberations should be based on competence and motivation, and the manager should identify the sources of these qualities in employees through careful examination (Carlin, 2019). According to Griffin (2021), most decisions are made with little attention to logic and rationality. Thus, one has to make sure that creativity and irrationality do not damage the company’s overall success.
Employees need to know how to decide and examine consequences to learn what is right and wrong at the moment. Even the most profound leaders cannot predict all mistakes and failures in their organizations. Therefore, a laissez-faire manager has to be careful, thoughtful, and unobtrusive. Management requires significant attention to the leader’s personal ideas, employees’ recommendations, and organizational culture. Otherwise, the lack of balance between these elements can lead to chaos instead of progress.
Achievements and Problems That Affect the Choice
As with any management style, laissez-faire management has its advantages and disadvantages for all participants and the company, in general. The choice of the laissez-faire style may not be perfect because many individuals consider its evident drawbacks without the leader’s input and weighing in all working processes (Carlin, 2019). Some researchers call this style ineffective because of managers’ apparent inaction and disinterest (Norris et al., 2021). However, the example of Zuckerberg’s company serves as a positive case for laissez-faire leadership.
It can be argued that such technology and innovation-driven companies as Facebook require a certain degree of freedom for employees to let creativity flourish. Therefore, what should be implemented in one’s managerial practice is a better understanding of delegation as positive behavior in a company (Norris et al., 2021). Some managers believe that it is their responsibility to control every process in the workplace. A laissez-faire manager is not one of those leaders because this individual can perceive the benefits of delegation, such as balanced distribution, better morale, empowerment, and satisfaction (Norris et al., 2021). The flexibility of authority and control in laissez-faire management is a unique opportunity to see what people can and cannot do for the company.
In Facebook, delegation and laissez-faire attitudes have a special place in the organizational culture. If something goes wrong, a person in charge should respond to the failure and either improve the situation or be fired. Shepard (2018) defined this approach as the main problem in Facebook that resulted in public concerns, abusive content, and ethical crisis. Therefore, the company should learn from past mistakes and do everything possible not to repeat them, making different managing decisions. One approach that could be taken relies on hiring skilled workers, checking their professionalism using challenging tasks, and providing them with an ability to work with a laissez-faire manager. With time, some challenges may emerge, including low productivity, procrastination, and poor role distribution (Norris et al., 2021). Nevertheless, such benefits as the possibility to do what is interesting, job satisfaction, and personal growth should prevail because people are involved in activities they know and can do.
Employees Under Laissez-Faire Management
The laissez-faire management style recommended for Facebook affects not only the chosen company and its progress as a whole but also its employees. A good leader or manager should understand that cooperation has an impact on all parties, and this approach changes the work of the team in several directions. One of the most evident advantages for employees who work with a laissez-faire manager is the possibility to make decisions for the company’s improvement. The outcome is that workers are satisfied with their jobs and achieve the results they expect (Iqbal et al., 2021). Managers do not participate in all discussions, allowing employees to share their points of view without fears or biases. Another critical element in working with laissez-faire management is the creation of the feeling of self-regulation (Iqbal et al., 2021). When a person organizes their work based on the available recourses, abilities, and knowledge, it is easier for them to succeed and work more effectively. Instead of following the recommendations and orders of one person, communication and regular meetings help workers discuss what is critical and necessary at the moment for them as a team.
Regarding the results and observations discussed previously, it is possible to formulate several recommendations for updating the leadership approach at Facebook. A laissez-faire manager should:
- Identify an organizational vision, missions, and goals (a laissez-faire manager informs the team what should be achieved at a certain point);
- Hire trained and skilled employees (a manager is responsible for hiring the best personnel);
- Allow employees to decide and communicate freely (managers give opportunities for employees at different stages of their work);
- Listen to what is said, offered, and discussed (managers should always monitor what workers do and how they cope with problems);
- Observe performance and address problems (it is normal that sometimes employees need help on how to approach a task);
- Demonstrate trust and respect to all team members (employees are better motivated when their managers understand their intentions and ideas);
- Recognize contributions of every employee (if an employee does something well, this achievement should be properly rewarded);
- Delegate and be available when it is necessary for an employee (managers should not be absent and offer support when necessary);
- Give feedback regularly (despite the nature of this management style, laissez-faire managers have to voice their opinions about decisions made by workers).
This paper outlines the potential benefits of the laissez-faire management style and how it can contribute to company growth. In particular, the example of Facebook and its changing leadership approaches is presented. Mark Zuckerberg has already succeeded as a laissez-faire leader in the early years of Facebook. It is possible that this style of leadership is necessary again to reignite the inspiration that guides modern technological advancement. A leader must adhere to the major characteristics of laissez-faire management and pay attention to such issues as trust, reliance, and communication. Employees should feel enough support to develop their ideas in the company and understand how critical their work is for its success. However, it is also vital not to make mistakes that some laissez-faire managers have made. For this reason, one has to observe and stay available for employees but not interrupt their working processes.
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Griffin, R. W. (2021). Management (13th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Iqbal, Z. A., Abid, G., Arshad, M., Ashfaq, F., Athar, M. A., & Hassan, Q. (2021). Impact of authoritative and laissez-faire leadership on thriving at work: The moderating role of conscientiousness. European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education, 11(3), 667-685. Web.
Norris, K. R., Ghahremani, H., & Lemoine, G. J. (2021). Is it laissez-faire leadership or delegation? A deeper examination of an over-simplified leadership phenomenon. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 28(3), 322–339. Web.
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Walker, R. (2021). What still needs a makeover at Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership style. Fortune. Web.