Laissez-Faire Leadership

In the Full-Range Leadership Model, the Laissez-faire style is the absence of leadership. They are not what we call leaders. They don’t assume a leading role, except on special occasions, when results deviate significantly from defined benchmarks in budgets and goals, or when a significant problem arises [passive management by exception). Or they never intervene, avoid their responsibilities, not express opinions on relevant matters, or provide support to co-workers [laissez-faire). They avoid setting clear expectations and defining goals for their co-workers and dislike well-defined agreements.

Measuring Leadership Style and Effect on Co-Workers

The findings presented here are based on studies we conducted to analyze leadership styles of men and women (Abarca & Majluf, 2003, 2010). There were two studies using different methodological approaches and different samples of firms.

The questionnaire to measure co-workers’ perceptions of leadership styles and effectiveness is an adaptation of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire that includes a full-range assessment of leadership behaviors. The most popular version of the MLQ is Form 5X (Avolio & Bass, 2002). The final form of this instrument has been used and validated in previous research.

The assessment of effects on co-workers is measured by extra effort, satisfaction and perception of leader effectiveness. Co-workers evaluate items in the questionnaire to judge the behavior of leaders ranking on Likert scale.

Beyond Style: The Practice of Leadership

Men and women practice leadership in ways that do not always fit the transactional-transformational categories. Usual expectations are that women are more effective as transformational leaders. Still, studies demonstrate that effective leaders do not deploy only one leadership style but a blend of different styles.

Evidence Explains Why Women Are More Effective Leaders Than Men

Traditionally, women have to work harder to demonstrate their competences. Consequently, women who reach leadership positions commonly show above-average performance.

Another reason is that women practice Transformational Leadership style naturally and are more focused on aspects that favor effectiveness. Studies show that the Transformational Leadership style is more effective than Transactional Leadership style (Carli & Eagly, 2016; Van Edwards, 2017, Helios, 2015).

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