Unit 04 – ‘Effects of Laissez-Faire Leadership on Staff Motivation and Work Ethics’

Closed doors, hands-off, outdated practices, leaders out of reach, and basically ‘leave well-enough alone’ and let things work themselves out… such leaders may very well be resigned on the job or simply preoccupied by their own self-interests and a leadership style that serves that purpose.  Subsequently, ‘Laissez-Faire Leadership Style’ might be the root cause of staff demotivation and deteriorating work ethics among the majority of organizational employees, as this type of ‘Free-Reign Leadership’ can communicate management’s disinterest in the actual progress and well-being of their employees, resulting in deteriorating work ethic and overall lack of productivity.  Lecture on ‘ethics and leadership’ posits that ethical practices in leadership can be largely influenced by a leader’s personality type which is made up of a combination of quantitative traits (PSY-533, Lesson 09, 2017).

Laissez-faire leadership has been linked to leadership personality types that are ‘egoistic’ and ‘self-serving’ and according the article by Bonde et al., “there are numerous parallels between ‘ethical egoism’ and laissez-faire theories” in which ‘self-interest is a prerequisite to self-respect’ (Bonde et al., 2013, p. 2).  However, such leadership style is generally not conducive to organizational success, and according to article by E. Gill, despite the handful of organizations that thrive on this style of leadership, “when laissez-faire leadership is used inappropriately in organizations… it can create more problems than it resolves… and demonstrates a failure to properly advise, coach or educate people, which leads to low performance” (Gill, 2016).  Lecture on ‘ethics and leadership’ further reflect that people can primarily be motivated by needs (provision), reward (reinforcement), goals (achievement) or work equity (PSY-533, Lesson 08, 2017); however, such aspects of motivation can be severely impacted in an environment wherein staff feel unsupported or undervalued.

In their article on the impact of leadership styles on employees’ attitude and performance, Asrar-ul-Haqan and Kuchinkeb found that “laissez-faire leadership style showed negative relationship with employee performance outcomes in terms of effectiveness, and employee satisfaction” (Asrar-ul-Haqan & Kuchinkeb, 2016, p. 54).  Lefkowitz on ‘ethics and values’ in organizations further reflected that “to the extent that loyally fulfilling one’s duties and responsibilities to one’s employer is a justifiable ethical requirement it is contingent on the corresponding ethical behavior of the employer in furthering and not thwarting the legitimate interests of all those who are affected by its actions” (Lefkowitz, 2003, p. 80).  Subsequently, to organizational leaders seeking to revitalize the workplace culture, reignite motivation in staff, and boost performance and productivity… some self-reflection might be the answer to a crucial personality question… “Are you a ‘laissez-faire’ leader?”



  • Asrar-ul-Haqan, M. & Kuchinkeb, K. P. (June, 2016). Impact of leadership styles on employees’ attitude towards their leader and performance: Empirical evidence from Pakistani banks. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2314721016300032
  • Bonde, S., Firenze, P., Green, J., Grinberg, M., Korijin, J., Levoy, E., Naik, A., Ucik, L., & Weisberg, L. (2013, May).A framework for making ethical decisions. Retrieved from http://www.brown.edu/academics/science-and-technology-studies/framework-making-ethical-decisions
  • Gill, E. (October, 2016) Leadership is Learned. Laissez-Faire Leadership, St. Thomas University. Retrieved from: http://online.stu.edu/laissez-faire-leadership/#proscons
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership Retrieved from: https://sites.google.com/site/leadershipstylesinteams/_/rsrc/1472770286507/leadership-style/slide0015_image024.gif?height=184&width=320
  • Lefkowitz, J. L. (2003). Normative ethical theories: II. Consequentialism. In Ethics and values in industrial-organizational psychology(pp. 65-81). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • PSY-533 Lecture, Ethics and Leadership, Unit 04, Lessons 08 & 09, World Campus – Summer Session, 2017. Pennsylvania State University.
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