Laissez-Faire Leadership Style: How To Master The Art of Delegation

As a new leader, do you find yourself feeling insecure? 

Do you feel like this insecurity is preventing you from inspiring and engaging your employees?

As a new leader, do you find yourself feeling insecure? 

Do you feel like this insecurity is preventing you from inspiring and engaging your employees?

66% of managers are burned out. 

And according to the WHO, that comes with exhaustion, alienation, and insecurity in new high-stakes roles. 

As a new manager, not only are you moving into a new role where you are expected to display confidence, but you are also at higher risk of dealing with imposter syndrome and overwork. 

To help you avoid burnout while taking control of your position, one thing that could help you is to learn about different leadership styles.

This article will tackle laissez-faire leadership. This leadership style is great for new managers who need extra encouragement to let go, and avoid over-work through delegation, help, and trust. 

But implementing laissez-faire leadership into your everyday isn’t necessarily easy, especially if delegation doesn’t come naturally to you. So, incorporating this new leadership style could have a lot to do with training your mindset. After all, behaviors like letting go, confidence, and trust, all start from within. 

What is laissez-faire leadership?

Laissez-faire leadership comes from the French, ‘laissez-faire’, which directly translates to ‘allow to do’. In other words, and to (mis)quote the Beatles, laissez-faire leadership means to Let It Be.

Or, in other words, laissez-faire leadership:

  • Promotes a hands-off approach
  • Means managers don’t interfere in their employees' day-to-day
  • Provides employees little direction or feedback
  • Allows space for employees to make their own decisions 

Think about it this way.

When piloting a charter flight, how often do you see captains serving drinks? 

And it’s the same with companies.

Being at the helm of one can sometimes make you think, “I’ll do it myself, that’s the best way.”

But if you’re going to abandon the cockpit to go serve drinks – who’s going to fly the plane?! 

It’s vital for both your wellbeing, and the company’s, to realize you can’t (and shouldn’t have to) do everything alone. 

Instead, learn to resist the urge to micromanage. Have faith in your hosts and hostesses. They are, after all, the ones who have been covering much of the groundwork, have face-to-face time with flyers, and know exactly how to serve them the best way. 

Therefore, laissez-faire leadership is synonymous with delegative leadership.

And to master the art of delegation, it helps to first gain an overview of where things will likely go right, and where they could go wrong with this Let it Be mindset.

So, what are some advantages and disadvantages of laissez-faire leadership? 

Advantages of laissez-faire leadership

  • Employees will feel empowered 

Laissez-faire leadership means you rely on your team. This empowers individuals to share more of their opinions. 

Individuals will be incentivized to work together and cooperate, building teamwork.

  • Freedom

When teams have the opportunity to work together without the all-knowing, all-seeing eye of their managers, they can often feel more empowered to share ideas and make their own decisions. 

This, in turn, gives you as a manager more freedom. 

With 60% of leaders reporting that they feel drained at the end of a workday, a laissez-faire approach will help you free up some of your valuable time. 

  • Relaxed company culture 

Nobody wants to feel micromanaged. Laissez-faire leadership can avoid this. Plus, it can contribute to creating a company culture that values employee creativity and open feedback lines. 

This is important for cultures that value innovation over strict deliverables. A more relaxed culture might even motivate personality types that respond well to a laissez-faire style. 

In Drive: The Surprising Science About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink suggests that corporate individuals want autonomy over task, team, technique, and time. 

Therefore, allowing for autonomy is the crux of laissez-faire leadership. 

Disadvantages of laissez-faire leadership 

  • Could lead to stress

Giving autonomy to people who can be autonomous in their work is great. But if you don’t spot those individuals correctly, being too laissez-faire might cause you some stress. 

How do you avoid this?

You can still leverage laissez-faire leadership techniques without completely letting your team go into their next project blind. 

For example, check in on your group performance rather than minutiae tasks. If this is going less well than expected, ask your second-in-command why this is the case. This will, of course, require you to delegate a second-in-command. 

  • Low accountability 

In a situation where something does go wrong, how do you hold someone accountable if no one will take ownership? 

First of all, doing something right vs. doing something wrong is looking at the matter only in black and white. To avoid doing this as the team manager, make sure you are giving constructive feedback to your team when something does go less well than expected.

When an employee is learning about their role, and growing within the company, there can be no wrong moves, and no wrong questions. 

Try to look at everything as a lesson moving forward. 

In this situation, a laissez-faire leader will provide useful and consistent feedback to avoid equating accountability with blame. 

  • Lack of motivation 

What sells better? 

  • A spin class with a teacher who stays on the bike and shouts commands from afar?

  • A spin class with a teacher who moves through the room, giving personal advice to each person? 

The latter is often more effective, which is why spin teachers are now lively performers, in addition to personal trainers. 

The risk of a hands-off approach is that the group in front of you might not feel as motivated. Without running through the barracks, so to speak, you might find passivity takes over. 

How do you avoid this?

To adopt a laissez-faire leadership style while avoiding passivity, your goal is to maintain motivation.

How can you do that?

Create incentives! 

If you feel your employees are getting more passive, make sure you ask what tools they require to complete their tasks. Often, low motivation can come from a lack of self-efficacy. 

HBR also suggests that another reason for a lack of motivation could be a mismatch in values. So as a laissez-faire leader, give your employees something to care about. 

Then, guide them to autonomy with access to the resources they need. Successful laissez-faire leaders will hire people who have the ability to problem-solve – but they need to be able to maximize their abilities in an environment that fosters creativity and ambition. 

Let's take a look at more real-life examples to see how to make this leadership style as successful as possible.

Laissez-faire leadership examples: Real-life scenarios 


Scenario 1: You’re marketing an event for World Earth Day. 

In this scenario, you are leading a team of creatives, e.g., designers and marketers. In this case, leadership could look like you letting your team come up with their own ideas and putting them into effect. 

However, you’re also working with a deadline: World Earth Day is approaching. And you have yet to see any concrete campaign deliverables. 

As the deadline approaches, you get more and more stressed and start wanting to blame your team for not meeting deadlines. 

In this scenario, it’s clear that a simple laissez-faire leadership won’t see you through to overall success. 

However, to effectively manage a team of creatives, it’s important to employ a laissez-faire approach at the beginning of your campaign. 

What tool do you use to manage team tasks? Asana is a great task management tool, but there are plenty of others out there. Connect with the Krauthammer team to give you access to more tools. 

Then, you could create task dependencies and break down the creative work into smaller, bite-sized tasks. 

This keeps you as the operational backbone, and also lets your creative team make decisions together. 

Conclusion: In high-stakes situations that require precision, attention to detail, a different leadership style might prove more effective to use.

Scenario 2: You’re managing a new Business Development team and want to deliver success on your KPIs by the end of the quarter. 

Working with completely new teams is never easy. 

You have to trust that they are experts in their field, without having worked with them before. 

However, if you begin to micromanage a team of experts without having the same level of expertise, this can immediately cause friction. 

Instead, you let the BDR team communicate between themselves and manage their own time. And you only step in to give them clear goals, so that you are all working towards the same KPIs. 

You even assign rewards based on their contributions. BDR teams often work with commission, which is a great incentive to counter passivity in the team. 

Conclusion: This is a great example of when using a laissez-faire leadership style is likely to work. Here, you’ve mastered the art of delegation, while still making sure goals are met. 


In politics, an example of a laissez-faire economic policy is when governments cut taxes to encourage more spending. 

The goal here is to stimulate the market by letting go of control of how this process might look like. This policy survives by not paying attention to whether something will be successful or not. 

Therefore, for laissez-faire leadership to work in a corporate environment, you also need to believe in your team. 

Trust that they will be successful. 

And if they’re not? Great. Take this as a lesson learned. 

Hopefully, this article will have shown you that employing laissez-faire leadership means you are OK with your team making mistakes. 

Meaning, it will help you greatly if your mindset is one of relinquishing control and insecurity, while building behaviors that cater to trust and confidence instead. 

Curious to learn how to encourage self-development and continuous improvement in your teams? Download our workbook Praise the Effort by clicking the banner. 

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