• Maureen O'Toole

Laissez-Faire Leadership Doesn't Mean Lazy Leadership!

What I’m Thinking About: Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

Laissez-Faire leadership comes from the French language, literally translated as “Let do”, meaning “let people do as they choose.” Does that sound like a recipe for chaos to you? Or an ideal work situation? Richard Semler, CEO and majority owner of Semco Partners in Brazil, is known for his power-sharing, participatory leadership style. Employees decide on their work hours, if they work from the office or home, colors of paint in the office, menu items in the cafeteria, and much more. A Harvard business school graduate, Semler has tremendous success with this leadership style. He trusts people to do their best effort, manage their time, and make decisions of all kinds. His official website calls him “a champion of employee-friendly radical corporate democracy”. (ricardosemler.com)

Why You Might Be Thinking About This: Participatory Leadership Builds Leaders

Laissez-Faire may sound like “lazy” but it’s anything but lazy! Laissez-Faire leadership works when everyone involved can be trusted to do their work, work well on a team, put the mission of the organization above personal interest, and commit to success. A “flat” (non-hierarchical) organization, one in which all teammates give input and use consensus-based decision making, builds both individual independence and team interdependence. Teammates can be trusted to make decisions and do their work with little or no guidance (independence) and understand that the success of the organization is based on the skills, talent, and experience that each team member brings to the effort (interdependence). Company members develop solid decision-making abilities and understand how each is critical to executing the mission and transforming a vision of success into realty. Each person in the organization develops valuable leadership skills.

Why It’s Worth Thinking About: Lean Into Laissez-Faire Leadership

The antithesis of the Autocratic Leader, if the Laissez-Faire organization has a designated leader; she or he serves as a mentor, guide, and cheerleader. Laissez-Faire leadership works well with teams that have high skill and knowledge levels and with high-functioning teams that are accustomed to self-expression, creativity, independence and interdependence, and delegated authority. Teams with high emotional intelligence, high trust, transparency, and common goals, mission and vision will thrive in this environment as they lead themselves to success.

Would the laissez-faire leadership style work well in your business?

Want to learn more about leadership styles? The Sandbox Group is ready to help you. How are things in your Sandbox?

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