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Laissez Faire Leadership Examples and How to Implement Them

As we have discussed in a recent article about Autocratic Leadership, it’s not always clear what these kinds of leadership styles look like and, because of this obscurity, it can be hard for some to see how they might work in a business setting. 

In this article, we’re going to discuss a very different kind of role to autocratism, which I have written about before. Today, I’ll be talking to you about laissez faire leadership. We have been over the idea before and defined what is meant by the term laissez faire, but today, I’ll be giving you a clearer outline of what that actually looks like and how it can be implemented into the way you lead your teams.

So, without further ado, let’s get into some laissez faire leadership examples and how to implement them...

 

1. A Leader Who Listens

A Leader Who Listens

Now, more than ever, employees want to feel as though their voices are heard and their concerns are being dealt with. In this day and age, leaders operating with autocratic approaches find very little success.

It should come as no surprise that the first example of how you can show yourself to be a laissez faire leader is to listen to your employees. If you find yourself in a position where you aren’t taking the time to listen to what your staff has to say and, instead, are trying to manage their work for them, you aren’t practising laissez faire leadership.

A laissez faire leader is someone who is able to sit back and trust their employees to use their skills and experience to determine their own structures and processes. Listening and learning from them is, therefore, a key aspect of being a great laissez faire leader.

You might then be thinking, “What does a laissez faire leader actually do?”. Well, while this kind of style leaves it to the team to discover the best way of working for them, the laissez faire leader is always on hand to provide support and assistance in any way. So, let’s look at an example:

Laissez Faire Leadership Example 1: A team member comes to you and says, “The way the team structure has been set out is not as productive as it could be. Can you rearrange the team structure so that we work better together?”. A laissez faire leader would, first, listen to the team member and then suggest that the team gets together to determine the best way to move forward.

Notice, the leader didn’t step in and interfere with any structures or processes. They didn’t suggest ways around the issue. They simply provided support for the team to do that themselves. They listened to the concern but ultimately left it up to their employees and their own experiences and abilities to figure it out themselves. This is the essence of laissez faire leadership.

 

2. A Leader Who Demonstrates Trusts

A Leader Who Trusts

Now, we understand how a laissez faire leader listens to their teams, we need to look at how exactly a laissez faire leader is able to give their teams the autonomy to work for themselves.

As you might guess by the title of this section, it all comes down to trust. A leader who is able to trust their team is a leader who is able to operate effectively in laissez faire leadership.

Companies who operate successfully with laissez faire leadership do so by hiring experts and allowing them the autonomy to make decisions around their own structure and processes. This is how they operate with a “hands-off” approach. Trust is the name of the game. So, what does this look like?

Laissez Faire Leadership Example 2: An employee comes to you and says that another member of the team isn't pulling their weight. Does the laissez faire leader confront the team member and ask to see evidence of their work? No. A laissez faire leader would approach this quite differently. They would approach the employee and check to see if there was anything that might help them to work more effectively.

Notice, the leader never stepped in and outright asked the team member if they thought they had been working effectively enough. They offered them the opportunity to improve their own effectiveness, leaving the autonomy with the individual team members.

 

3. A Leader Who Has a Clear Vision

A Leader with a Vision

It can often be hard for a leader to let go of the management of their teams, not because they don’t trust their staff, but because they don’t trust the vision they’ve set out.

A leader who is confident in the abilities of their team has the potential to be a great laissez faire leader but not if they don’t first believe in their ability to lead from afar. Many leaders get hung up on this, they’ll have full confidence in the abilities of their employees but, when it comes to letting them carry out their vision, they lack the confidence that they have lit the way clearly enough.

Laissez Faire Leadership Example 3: You outline your vision to your team and challenge them to create, plan and execute their own strategy in order to follow it. However, later down the line, you have a suspicion that changing your team’s course might yield better results. Do you step in and alter course or allow the team to follow through. A laissez faire leader would see this kind of intervention as a last resort.

As a laissez faire leader, you need to give your employees the freedom to figure things out for themselves otherwise you can’t ever expect them to grow as team members. Have faith in the vision you’ve set out and let them follow through with their strategy. 

Laissez faire leadership is a self-rewarding concept. The more autonomy you give your employees by listening to them, putting trust in them and trusting the vision you’ve set out for them, the faster the group will grow into a collaborative team that manages itself.

So I will leave you with the question of how do you think laissez faire leadership might actually work for you?

Every success,

Graham

About the author

Graham Wilson

Graham Wilson

I enjoy and specialise in teaching leadership skills, how to create winning strategies, how to build high performance cultures. Outcomes and results are the most important measures for me!