What Are the Pros and Cons of Laissez-Faire Leadership?

A laissez-faire leadership style gives workers flexibility to complete tasks without constant supervision and direction. It works well with employees who are knowledgeable and experienced with their roles. With workers who lack experience or time-management skills, laissez-faire leadership may lead to inefficiency or poor results.

Employees who are well-suited for autonomous work often feel greater job satisfaction and motivation with a laissez-faire leader. An effective leader still offers some direction, coaching and communication, but the employee feels trusted to complete projects and tasks without micromanagement. A laissez-faire leader is freed up to assess bigger picture strategies and to make higher-level decisions.

A laissez-faire leader risks being viewed as an ineffective or absent leader when employees aren't comfortable or confident in completing tasks alone. Employees may also miss out on opportunities for growth and development when a leader doesn't consult with them to set goals and discuss training and development programs. A manager may also lose rapport if he doesn't interact regularly with employees. Getting employees to collaborate on team projects or activities is a challenge if communication is ineffective. When employees sense that a laissez-faire leader is disconnected from their roles and tasks, the workers may naturally become less focused on the quality of their work or level of production.