Team leaders and managers play an important part in handling employees. How they conduct their role and responsibilities as a leader in the workplace can significantly influence employee motivation, performance, commitment, and satisfaction in their jobs. However, team leaders have their preferences in terms of management and leadership styles. 

One of the most popular and highly debated leadership styles is delegative leadership. It is a management style that practices task delegation and encourages autonomy and independence of team members and employees. To give you a better idea, here is a brief overview of delegative leadership in the workplace, including the advantages and disadvantages it poses.


What Is Delegative Leadership

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First, let’s take a closer look at what a delegative style of team management is like. With that, here are some of the defining characteristics of the delegative leadership style:


Focuses on delegating tasks accordingly

Also referred to as  ‘laissez-faire’, delegative leadership is a style that plays with employee strengths. One of the most important pillars of a delegative leadership style is to assign responsibility to employees geared towards their knowledge, skills, and expertise. The delegation process aims to increase the productivity of each employee by providing them with assignments and projects that they are well suited to.

Encourages autonomy 

In addition to delegating tasks to employees, a delegative leader also encourages autonomy by allowing them to make their own decisions in their tasks or projects. Delegative leadership also puts less emphasis on frequent supervision and practices a more hands-off approach with their employees. This style of employee management also allows them to complete day to day tasks at their own pace, as long as they meet the general deadline for the project.

However, that does not mean that delegative leaders completely get rid of their supervisory responsibilities. One important role of a delegative supervisor is to provide the necessary resources for the employee to work autonomously. Also, they are still expected to guide their employees but only when asked. They are also required to monitor employees and identify those who need more or less supervision from them. 

Leaders take accountability for employees’ actions

When practicing delegative leadership, managers provide less supervision and encourage employees to work autonomously, thus, making their own decisions. However, one downside of this independence is that some employees fear that their decisions may lead to mistakes and failure. 

To help deal with this, a delegative leader is still the person help responsible and accountable for project outcomes that did not go as well as planned. Delegative leaders are encouraged to put their absolute trust in their employees and believe that they are able to make the right choices and decisions in their delegated tasks and projects. 


The Pros of Delegative Leadership

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Leadership styles have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. With that, here are some of the notable benefits of practicing a delegation style of leadership in the workplace.


Emphasizes individual employee’s strengths 

In a delegative style of leadership, the process of delegating tasks is based on what the employee is considered to be good at. While this already highlights the employee’s capabilities, accomplishing important tasks and projects further puts them in a place to showcase their skills. Task delegation also encourages them to further improve, develop, and grow in their own fields.

Boosts employee satisfaction and motivation

One of the biggest challenges faced by team leaders and managers revolves around keeping employees satisfied and motivated to work. As business owners or leaders, it is important that your employees feel happiness and satisfaction in what they do. 

In line with this, adopting a delegative style of leadership in the workplace is considered an effective way to highly motivate employees as it encourages them to highlight and develop their skills. Aside from that, task delegation is one way to increase employee engagement with every task and project. Another benefit of delegate work is that achievements and praises for a project directly go to the team member that handled the assigned task. 

Creates a positive and cohesive work environment

Many believe that the basic elements of a delegative style of leadership help create a positive and cohesive working environment. Many employees appreciate the autonomy and flexibility that a delegative leadership style provides them. Also, it prevents micromanaging and bureaucracy when it comes to making important decisions for the project. Good leaders following this style of leadership are also seen as more like a mentor than a person of authority that whom employees fear interacting with. 


The Cons of Delegative Leadership

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A delegative style of leadership is not all about benefits and advantages. Aside from that, delegative leaders can still pose risks and negative influences when the pillars of this leadership style are not implemented properly. 


Passed blame and shifting responsibility

One of the tenets of a delegative leader is that they take responsibility for their employees’ actions. Doing this helps get rid of an employee’s fear of making mistakes and errors while they are working with less supervision. This allows them to focus on their tasks and make creative and innovative decisions without thinking about potential consequences if it fails. 

However, this becomes a problem when the leader fails to take responsibility and accountability. When the blame and punishment are shifted to the employee, it creates feelings of betrayal, distrust, and disappointment. On the other hand, there may also be circumstances where praise and prizes for a successful project go to the leader instead of the employee who worked on the task. 

To avoid this, good leaders should perform periodic check-ups on their employee’s progress. At the same time, they should also highlight the individual people who accomplished their goals instead of putting themselves in the limelight. 

Feelings of isolation and detachment

The delegative style of leadership encourages autonomy and independence for their employees. However, some team members may feel isolated and less involved when they lack direct supervision from their leaders and managers. An employee working on a smaller-scale project may feel like their work feels invaluable in the grand scheme of things in the company. To combat these, a good leader should create a strategic delegation process that encourages employees to work collaboratively in order to complete a larger project or achieve a bigger goal.


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