What Is a Laissez-Faire Leader?


Quick Answer

The term "laissez-faire" is French, literally meaning "allow to do," and when applied to leadership it implies that subordinates are allowed a great deal of latitude and freedom to handle tasks their own way. There are benefits and drawbacks to this leadership style, some of which can make it ill-suited to certain settings.

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Full Answer

Leadership, whether political, military or managerial, can take on a number of different characteristics. Leaders who project a laissez-faire demeanor are often seen as ineffective by their peers and superiors, though generally liked by most of those working under them. In some ways, providing individuals with the freedom necessary to achieve certain tasks can be a good way to earn respect, but it can lead to disorganized results in the long term. Unfortunately, people often function at different levels, with some excelling and others doing only what is required of them. This hands-off approach often sees more failures than successes, even if the rate and quality of the successes may be otherwise remarkable. It's never a good idea for a leader to be completely disengaged from his or her subordinates. In the long term, this can create feelings of apathy from those a leader is meant to supervise.

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