Q:

What is a laissez-faire leader?

A:

Quick Answer

The term "laissez-faire" is French, literally meaning "allow to do," and when applied to leadership it implies that subordinates are allowed a great deal of latitude and freedom to handle tasks their own way. There are benefits and drawbacks to this leadership style, some of which can make it ill-suited to certain settings.

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Full Answer

Leadership, whether political, military or managerial, can take on a number of different characteristics. Leaders who project a laissez-faire demeanor are often seen as ineffective by their peers and superiors, though generally liked by most of those working under them. In some ways, providing individuals with the freedom necessary to achieve certain tasks can be a good way to earn respect, but it can lead to disorganized results in the long term. Unfortunately, people often function at different levels, with some excelling and others doing only what is required of them. This hands-off approach often sees more failures than successes, even if the rate and quality of the successes may be otherwise remarkable. It's never a good idea for a leader to be completely disengaged from his or her subordinates. In the long term, this can create feelings of apathy from those a leader is meant to supervise.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Who are some laissez-faire leaders from history?

    A:

    The laissez-faire leadership style was adopted by some American Presidents and was most popular before the great depression. Two of the leaders who used this style of leadership were President Martin Van Buren and President Herbert Hoover.

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  • Q:

    Who are some famous "laissez faire" leaders?

    A:

    Some famous "laissez faire" presidents include Herbert Hoover, Martin Van Buren and Ronald Regan. Modern day "laissez faire" leaders would include Steve Jobs and Warren Buffet.

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  • Q:

    What are the pros and cons of Laissez-faire leadership?

    A:

    A laissez-faire leadership style gives workers flexibility to complete tasks without constant supervision and direction. It works well with employees who are knowledgeable and experienced with their roles. With workers who lack experience or time-management skills, laissez-faire leadership may lead to inefficiency or poor results.

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  • Q:

    Is it better to be feared or loved as a leader?

    A:

    In his book, "The Prince," Niccolo Machiavelli argues that it is ultimately better to be feared than loved as a leader, although he notes that being loved and feared at the same time would be ideal, albeit unlikely. His argument is based on a view of people as essentially self-serving. If they see an opportunity to further their own interests, even at the expense of loyalty or love, only fear of repercussions will hold them back.

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