During my CEO career, I have mostly seen problems with this ineffective leadership style. However, as with all leadership styles, laissez-faire leadership also has its benefits, which I will explain in detail in this article.
Laissez-faire leadership is a hands-off leadership approach where team members make all the decisions. Laissez-faire leadership leads to low productivity and a perception of a disengaged leader but can work in skilled, capable, and self-motivated teams.
This short description is an excerpt from our main article on laissez-faire leadership.
The Advantages of Laissez-Faire Leadership
There are some really strong sides to Laissez-Faire leadership, such as:
1. Increased autonomy
A highly experienced and skilled team can thrive under laissez-faire leadership. People who know what they’re doing and have industry experience often love the freedom the laissez-faire leader provides. Undoubtedly, these people can do what they need to within deadlines without the leader’s guidance. In fact, any input from the leader can be deemed a hindrance rather than a blessing.
2. Team members have creative freedom
The lack of restrictions creates an environment in which team members can showcase their skills. Furthermore, being tasked with making challenging decisions and finding solutions to problems quickly helps each team member hone his or her skills.
3. The retention rate can increase
Specifically applying to experts, i.e., highly skilled and experienced team members, laissez-faire leadership can improve retention rates. Most experts prefer the freedom to make their own decisions. If they are in a restrictive work environment, they may search for opportunities to leave, thus increasing the turnover rate. The opposite also applies: the freedom a laissez-faire work environment provides increases the possibility of experts remaining loyal to the organization.
4. Faster decision-making
The lack of central coordination and leader involvement results in faster decision-making if the subordinates are skilled enough. This has an apparent drawback as it can result in several subordinates taking the initiative and making decisions that actually conflict with each other in the end.
Conclusions on the advantages of laissez-faire leadership
Although the benefits above sound great, true laissez-faire leadership mean that the leader steps back and lets things play out on their own pretty much. Hence, for the above benefits to emerge, the team must be very capable and also understand the overall picture without guidance from their leader. On top of that, I might add, you would need lots of luck, or the possible advantages will be drowned in the serious disadvantages of this leadership style.