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MAJOR LEADRSHIP STYLES: According to Kurt Lewin

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Leadership style is the way you are most comfortable leading others to achieve your vision. There are many different leadership styles and understanding what type you are will help you better prepare yourself to avoid the common pitfalls of that particular style.

In 1939, a group of researchers led by psychologist Kurt Lewin set out to identify different styles of leadership.  While further research has identified more distinct types of leadership, this early study was very influential and established three major leadership styles that have provided a springboard for more defined leadership theories. Let’s look at the four leadership styles described by Kurt Lewin.

The first style to look at is autocratic leadership, and it can be defined as a one-person show that can turn out to be successful in situations when a leader is the most knowledgeable in the team. This style of leadership is strongly focused on both command by the leader and control of the followers. (Kendra 2021)

This style can be used when a quick decision is needed. Authoritarian leadership works best in situations that require quick decisions, such as rebuilding a failed organization. Or if strict control is required. Autocratic leadership can work well when incumbent management is too generous, and workers are not burdened. The dictator gives instructions to be followed, and the actions taken as a result of these instructions are closely monitored. Also, if you need to quickly optimize your work process. Autocratic leadership works well when you have to get something done, and this style allows subordinates to get the job done without worrying about the bigger picture. This explains why authoritarian leadership is so common in the military. (Evie 2021)

The second style of leadership according to Lewin is democratic leadership also known as participative leadership. A democratic leader encourages the participation of group members but retains a final say in the decision-making process. Group members participate in the process and become more motivated and creative. A democratic leader tends to make followers feel that they are an important part of the team, helping to build commitment to the group’s goals. (Kendra 2021)

A good scenario for use of this style could be when experts are subordinated. For experienced and professional teams, a democratic leadership style can build on their existing strengths and talents to the best of their ability, rather than expect them to work. As well as, when you need to create property rights. Support decision and planning implicitly by involving the team in decision-making and planning. This leaves team members much more dedicated to planning and increases the likelihood of overcoming or circumventing obstacles to execution as they arise. (Evie 2021)

The third style of leadership is delegation leadership, also known as “Laissez-Faire” and it’s a French word that means “let him do”. Delegation leaders provide little guidance to group members and leave decisions to them. This style can be useful in situations involving highly skilled professionals, but often has a poor role definition and lack of motivation. Lewin said handoff leadership tends to disorient the group, with members blaming each other for mistakes, refusing to take personal responsibility, making less progress, and performing less. (Kendra 2021)

The best moments to emphasize this style are when you have creative experts in your team, like creative professionals with solid skills and extensive experience. Also, when your team has the ability to drive itself, which means that the team is highly motivated and driven to succeed on their own and it is comfortable working without supervision. (Evie 2021)

We just sow the essential three major leadership styles by Lewin, But I feel it’s better to show an additional style named transformational Leadership. This style was founded in the late 1970s and it got an expansion from a researcher named Bernard M. Bass. Transformational leaders have the ability to inspire as much as inspire their team members and make positive changes within the group. These leaders are emotionally intelligent, energetic, and passionate. They don’t only help organizations achieve their goals, but they also help group members reach their potential. (Kendra 2021)

Transformational leadership is essential when you have a strong vision for the future and it works when you are willing to work within the system and bring others together to make it happen, so it is essential when you have an inspiring long-term vision for the future. Transformational leadership is often not appropriate when an organization is new, leadership has not been demonstrated, and has not yet gained the necessary trust from the team. So, this style is suitable when you have the right to lead. (Evie 2021)


There are as many different leadership styles as there are leaders, but they can generally be categorized by people and work orientation. To make it easier to understand I’ll include this model with the details.

Developing as a leader means being flexible enough to be able to decide what type of leadership you need, use the strategy that is likely to work best, and  change your style as needed. Effective leaders  seamlessly transition their leadership styles depending on the situation to become an effective leader.



Evie L. 2021. Different leadership styles. CPD Online college. Read 04.28.2022. Link: Different leadership styles | Pros and Cons of different leading styles (cpdonline.co.uk)

Kendra C. 2021. Leadership Styles and Frameworks You Should Know. Verywellmind. Read 04.28.2022. Link: Leadership Styles and Frameworks (verywellmind.com)

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