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Leadership Styles Definition and Analysis

An organization’s leadership is primarily focused on inspiring employees to achieve organizational tasks. It is also preoccupied with formulating a broader vision for an organization and developing stakeholder buy-in to support its achievements. There are various types of leadership styles used by managers to motivate their workers. Some of the most common include autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, authoritative, and affiliative leadership styles. For purposes of this study, the focus is given to the democratic and authoritative leadership styles as two commonly employed leadership styles in the tire industry.

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Democratic Leadership Style

The democratic leadership style is primarily preoccupied with getting the views of employees before important decisions are made. It assumes a bottom-up leadership approach whereby decision-making power is shared between top and bottom-level employees. Comparatively the autocratic leadership style assumes a top-down decision-making system whereby top-level managers exercise autonomous decision-making powers and lower-ranking employees have a duty to implement them. Their input is not necessarily sought during the decision-making process as directors and top managers exercise this right indiscretion.

The democratic leadership style, if applied in the tire market industry, would be beneficial in harnessing the potential that exists in the industry. For example, it would enable companies to tap into the technological and market opportunities that exist in the sector. This is why this leadership style is associated with the adoption of best-practice principles in making decisions (Kim, Baik, and Kim, 2019). Therefore, there will be a minimized influence of subjective factors, which often lead to errors and missteps in the industry. This is largely true because the automotive industry is largely a technical industry driven by quantitative measures of assessment. Product quality issues, price, and service quality are some of the considerations that have to be factored in key decision-making systems. At the same time, there needs to be a careful understanding of economic and policy factors affecting business performance and sales in particular. These myriad factors are instrumental in helping companies to come up with the right blend of strategies to employ in different business contexts.

A democratic leadership style would help managers to create a framework for which to assess these considerations holistically. In other words, it will give different cadres of people an opportunity to give their perspectives regarding proposed business strategies, thereby creating an opportunity for various discourses to be effectively deliberated before decisions are finalized. This leadership style also creates room for different parties to build consensus on various contentious issues, thereby providing the foundation for developing a strong team spirit in the organization. As highlighted in this report, collaboration is an important tenet of the company’s HR policy. Therefore, the adoption of a democratic leadership style would complement its adoption because it allows different stakeholders to negotiate with one another. Using compromise and respect for opposing views, they are likely to develop new skills that may enable them to build a stronger foundation for undertaking other tasks in the organization. Therefore, the democratic leadership style easily fits into Bridgestone’s corporate culture.

Although the democratic leadership style has its advantages, as highlighted above, its adoption could also negatively affect organizations in the automotive industry. For example, the inclusion of different perspectives in the decision-making process could significantly increase the length of time it takes to make decisions. This is because seeking the views of various stakeholders and getting them to agree on a common approach to solving them could take a long time. Bridgestone has many competitors, such as Firestone, Michelin, and Pirelli, which would not hesitate to exploit opportunities that emerge from a competitor being slow in making decisions. Indeed, organizations that have adopted alternative leadership styles will become more effective in grabbing market opportunities before a meeting is convened to get the views of multiple stakeholders in a democratic leadership environment. Therefore, organizations that adopt a democratic leadership style need to develop an efficient decision-making system that allows managers to sample the views of different stakeholders in a time-sensitive manner.

Autocratic Leadership Style

As highlighted above, the autocratic leadership style is a top-down leadership style where privilege is given to employees at senior levels of a company to make policies on behalf of others. Therefore, unlike the democratic leadership style, little input is sought from employees during the decision-making process of an organization. If applied in the tire industry, this leadership style would yield tremendous benefits for organizations that adopt them in events of market uncertainties. Indeed, the autocratic leadership style is hailed for its effectiveness in helping organizations navigate through turbulent seasons of their business cycles as it is predicated on the establishment of strong organizational structures that effectively implement stipulated policies. The current uncertainties relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and the unpredictability of its effects on the global economy suggest that an autocratic leadership style would be effective in helping organizations surmount these challenges. At the same time, employees who work in the Middle East market are familiar with this leadership style as it is also applied in various industries besides the automotive or tire sector. Therefore, there is a likelihood that this leadership style would effectively help companies to make decisions faster and more efficiently without much resistance from employees.

The negative side associated with the adoption of a democratic leadership style is its potential to harbor dictator-like tendencies in leadership, which may be harmful to the organization in the long run. In extreme versions of autocratic leadership, the decisions of one man cannot be questioned and employees have to implement them without fil, or else they would face disciplinary action. In such circumstances, the roles of employees are reduced to validating the views of their superiors as their opinions are not sought. This leadership style may be detrimental to an organization in the long run as no one person has the answers to all organizational problems. Meritocracy would diminish in such a situation, thereby expanding the room for bad leadership to prevail. Therefore, before deciding on the best leadership style to follow, it is imperative for tire companies to weigh the pros and cons of each method.

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Proposed Leadership Style

In light of the advantages and disadvantages of the democratic and autocratic leadership styles described above, a laissez-faire leadership style is a good alternative to adopt at Bridgestone. This leadership style is mostly predicated on the ability of leaders to delegate authority to other people or groups of people while taking accountability for their actions. According to Kim, Baik, and Kim (2019), this leadership style is associated with a hands-off approach in the decision-making process where leaders provide all training and logistical support to employees, as they are given the task of making decisions.

The laissez-faire leadership style will be appropriate for Bridgestone because it will create a conducive environment for employees to be creative in addressing organizational tasks. Particularly, it is associated with a relaxed work environment where mistakes are welcomed as they are considered part of the learning process (Vidal et al., 2017). Furthermore, the top leadership gives employees creative control over the decision-making systems of the organization. Bridgestone would benefit from this type of leadership style because employees understand some of the problems the organization faces better than the managers do. For example, the customer service department understands customer service needs better than management does. They interact with customers on a daily basis and understand what they need or require. In this regard, they are better placed at coming up with solutions to improve service quality issues. However, the relatively constrained top-down decision-making environment at the organization makes it difficult to apply their creativity in such situations; instead, they have to wait for lengthy bureaucratic problems to (a) acknowledge that the problem exists and (b) to come up with recommendations that may or may not address them effectively.

A laissez-faire leadership style would help the firm to better address these knowledge gaps and encourage the development of workable solutions that would effectively address the problems highlighted. It would give employees an opportunity to brainstorm different solutions and perspectives before settling on one that would be later proposed to management for adoption. This leadership style adopts elements of the bottom-up and top-down leadership styles highlighted above and that are related to the democratic and autocratic leadership styles because employees, who come up with decisions, are the main proponents of new ideas, while management, which is at the top decision-making organ, validates or approves these ideas. Therefore, there is a synchrony between the top and bottom-level decision-making systems. It accommodates the diversity of views among employees and at the same time fosters the functioning of an efficient decision-making organ, which is the management that has the sole duty of validating or approving them.

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