Leadership is the process of influencing people so that they will perform a variety of tasks in an effective manner. It is, therefore, crucial to have a strong leader who can inspire and motivate the employees.

A leader is different to a manager, since a manager is often appointed to a position of power, whereas a leader may often emerge as the best to cope in a given situation (i.e. an employee who is very competent at computing may well be viewed as a leader, even though he may be towards the bottom of the organisational hierarchy).

There are a number of styles of leadership:

  1. Autocratic.

    This is often referred to as an authoritarian leadership style, and it basically means that the people at the top of an organisation make all the decisions and delegate very little responsibility down to their subordinates.

    Communication is top-down, with no opportunity for feedback to the leader. It can cause much resentment and frustration amongst the workforce and it is not very common in today's business world.

  2. Democratic.

    This involves managers and leaders taking into account the views of the workforce before implementing any new system.

    This can lead to increased levels of morale and motivation amongst the workforce, but it can also result in far more time being taken to achieve the results since many people are involved in discussing the decision.

  3. Laissez-faire.

    This is where employees are set objectives, and then they have to decide how best to achieve them using the available resources. This method of leadership can result in high levels of enthusiasm for the task in-hand, but it can at times rely too much on the skills of the workforce.

  4. Paternalistic.

    This is fairly autocratic in its approach to dealing with employees, although their social and welfare needs are taken into account when a decision is made that will affect them. The leader is likely to consult the workforce before implementing any decision, but he is unlikely to listen to much of the feedback.