Kurt Lewin was the one who had an early thought about how leadership can be dissected into equally divided uniform portions and comparable pieces. The year 1930 marked the milestone where the professor himself anatomized the true essence of direction, control, and orchestration. In a gist – LEADERSHIP.
Much credit due to whatever environment he was conditioned in as a child and the years of meticulous observation and haystack of thoughts, Kurt went ahead to introduce and proudly formulate the theory of leadership where the term has three distinct types:
Autocratic, Democratic, and Laissez-faire.
While it may be true that the categories have been heard by many in some way or the other, their truthful meaning and depiction could only be understood under practical and lifelike circumstances. Or else the proposed theories would merely be one of many theoretical forms written on pieces of paper, irrelevant to several mindsets in their respective contexts.
Prior to elucidating what the three sorts of leadership actually mean, it is vital to exemplify their genre. They are all behavioral theories. While the professor was amid the chaos of his own perplexity of the term, he knew that much of the categories' traits and attributes relied on the traits and attributes of the leaders themselves. However, how they behaved as a leader mattered MORE.
Autocratic leaders are the ones who are drunk with power and authority. As soon as they sign the official papers to become the superior over all, they forget how to behave and act. No matter how much they must have promised, such leaders tend to make decisions on their own moods and terms, paying no heed to what the people have to say. They do not care about the need of the situation as far as their conduct and opinion are held high in regard. Autocratic leaders might be adverse in ways where people need to have a say while their decisions are being taken; however, when it comes to quick decisions and instant attempts to execute something, they might become helpful. When there is an urgent demand of having a person make the call, without any input from anyone around or close by, such leaders are the idol type. With that being said, such urgencies rarely occur, and when they do, the clouds of disappointments and failures seldom eventually descend, wrecking both the leader and the people. Needless to say, as a leader, while it may be positive to be spontaneous and quick with your decisions, calculated and foreseen decisions are always better than the wild ones – for we do not know what might occur next.
Democratic leaders are the ones who are the people-pleasers. Having all the same rights, benefits, and perks as the rest of the leaders, these sorts of leaders still dwell upon their people that they wish to serve and delight. Whatever they do, it is only after hearing the requirements of others around ad not just their own. In one say, it is exactly the opposite of the ones who go high on power and position. They are planners and know what they are doing while they are at it. As much as they have the much-needed skills and abilities to make decisions, democratic leaders often fail to come upfront when in times of crisis, leaving everything on the drooping shoulders of the ones they happily serve. It is true that in any situation, the whole point of making one person have power is to ensure that the needs of all are accommodated and facilitated; however, seldom times, people lack the clarity of thoughts and motives, and that is where they need another point of view. A leader – someone who can think outside of the boundaries and take a stand; it doesn't matter if it is in favor or opposition.
Laissez-faire leaders are the ones who are simply lazy. They do not want to carry the overburdening responsibilities of a leader; hence they rely entirely upon the ones around them. Paying no heed to what they have been assigned to do, such leaders are only there to interfere in times of urgency and never before. They have no concern or interest in becoming a leader except enjoy its perks. It is good that they allow the other capable hands to stir the pot and add spices of their own choice, but what if their choice of spices isn't right? It will surely ruin the entire pot, and the one in the leadership position will have to pay the cost for it. However, if such me in power paid this much attention to what could happen, they would not have fallen under this category. What they fail to understand is that collaboration is positive and impactful but throwing hands is not. Emerging only during times when the water is above the head will bring no benefit to anyone but sole destruction, proving their presence to go to waste entirely.
Kurt was spot-on with his theory. Any critical situation must evaluate the type of leadership it requires. While it may vary, every different event needs a specific type, if not all. Certainly not all. As humans, we all tend to fully understand things under practical and word-close phenomenon. Hence, we would use one here too.
Why did so many leaders failed and the unexpected ones emerged triumphantly? Have you ever given that a thought? They were fine before then. Why did they fall so hard during a pandemic? Did their abilities lack? Did their skills fell apart? Or were their leadership type not suitable to the circumstance as urgent as a pandemic?
So many of you might think that the answer is one and only that. However, it is not a math question that can easily be answered in one go. Nor is it a fact from science, technology and biologically that can not be defied by any means or law. Like so many other factors, leadership is subjective and comes in handy only if the context and situation is explicable. Otherwise – the solution-making process might come to a halt. A permanent one. When it comes to answering the above-mentioned questions, the answers will vary; however, one factor which would rise above all would be the need for an honest hero.
While in my 20s, there was not so much trust when I was managing people. When I was managing people back in the UK 10 years ago, I was in my 20s. The disparity was real, and it still exists. The most prominent and conspicuous of all was lack of honesty. I don't know how and when this trait prolonged for all of these years, but it ultimately became poison for leaders. No matter which field, area, or domain you work in – let it be any personal business, lack of honesty to work and the people you lead is fatal. I have seen it…
Especially now that COVID-19 has changed the entire course of dealing with work and work-related problems, I observe how being honest has become beneficial against dishonest leaders.
Correlate this with the theories I openly elucidated above. And the most critical and poignant circumstances that the world has seen in centuries, what kind of a leader did we really need? Was it autocratic, democratic, or the third one? What do you think? We did identify that a leader is distinguished on the basis of his behavior under varying circumstances and how impactful it is towards the wellbeing of his people or country. The pandemic asked for urgent decisions while keeping the long-term adverse effects in check. When the swamps of bees (people) came running to hospitals where equipment was insufficient, and treatment was unavailable, the most powerful of all nations even collapsed. They did. Their leaders did not know how to react or how to make the call. Do not misunderstand that these were the developing or underdeveloped countries. Even those who had all the resources and all the riches in the world could not head-first fight the disease until it crippled them for months. They all literally got stampeded. What was the leadership needed back there and then?
Now that I think about it, it was not at all urgent. At least for the powerful nations. For the ones who claimed that they knew all and had control over every aspect of their country. What happened now? Why are they tongue-tied? Didn't they expect a pandemic? Didn't they see patterns and trends going about? Were they too busy stealing off the poor ad making the wealthy richer? Were they only filling up their bank accounts before any disaster prevails?
The questions remain unanswered.
On the contrary, I think everything you needed was to be radical, honest, and authentic - for the long term. If not honest, you can not be prepared for anything far or worst than a pandemic. Being part of a business myself, if I were not honest with what I did every day, I would not have survived this long. No matter how much it does not matter or is unlikely to bring you any sort of reward or award in the future, being honest to your work and job ought to be constant - By all means. Despite the overwhelming and poignant situations, dishonesty as a trait can never make a good enough leader. He might get lucky a few more times, but in the long run, his adverse traits will leave a country as it is now… burning in a fire that was long spread.