10 Common Leadership Styles (Plus How To Find Your Own)

It seems reasonable to say that there is no one perfect way to lead, in my opinion. Different environments call for different strategies, and leaders may even decide to alter their approach to suit particular circumstances or combine elements of two or more styles for maximum impact. Almost every aspect of an organization’s work and output is impacted by how well its leadership performs. The way that people are led has a significant impact on morale, productivity, creativity, efficiency, and communication effectiveness. There are ten different leadership philosophies that you will encounter in organizations, listed below in no particular order.

10 common leadership styles

Types of leadership styles

The top ten leadership styles, along with each style’s advantages, disadvantages, and examples, are listed below:

1. Coaching leadership style

For both employers and the employees they oversee, the coach leadership style is one of the most beneficial. Unfortunately, it’s frequently one of the least used leadership styles, largely because it can take more time than other styles.

You may be a coaching leader if you:

Benefits: Coaching leadership is positive in nature and encourages the acquisition of new skills, empowerment, and free-thinking. It also revisits company objectives and fosters a culture of self-assurance within the workplace. Leaders who coach are often seen as valuable mentors.

Challenges: While this approach has many benefits, it can also be time-consuming because it calls for one-on-one time with employees, which can be difficult to come by in a setting where deadlines are strict.

Example: To discuss lessons learned from the previous quarter, a sales manager meets with their team of account executives. They begin the meeting by evaluating the team’s performance in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

The manager then commends specific team members for their outstanding performance and reviews the team’s goals. The manager concludes the meeting by encouraging the salespeople to achieve their objectives by announcing a contest to begin the following quarter.

2. Visionary leadership style

By motivating workers and winning over their trust for fresh ideas, visionary leaders have the ability to accelerate change and usher in periods of progress. Creating a solid organizational bond is another skill of a visionary leader. They work to instill trust in both direct reports and colleagues.

For larger organizations going through transformations or corporate restructuring, as well as smaller organizations that are expanding quickly, a visionary style is especially beneficial.

You may be a visionary leader if you are:

Benefits of visionary leadership include helping businesses expand, bringing employees together, and updating dated procedures or technologies.

Challenges: Because they are focused on the big picture, visionary leaders may overlook crucial particulars or other opportunities. Additionally, because they are more focused on the future, they might forego resolving current problems, which could make their team feel ignored.

Example: A teacher establishes a group at work for coworkers who want to assist in resolving concerns and anxieties students have outside of the classroom. The objective is to support students’ increased focus and academic success. In order to quickly and effectively find meaningful ways to assist students, he has developed testing methodologies.

3. Servant leadership style

Servant leaders put the needs of their team members first because they know that this makes them more productive and likely to consistently produce excellent work. They prioritize collaboration and employee happiness, which leads to higher levels of respect.

The servant leadership style is excellent for organizations of any size and in any sector, but it is particularly common in nonprofits. These leaders are particularly adept at boosting employee morale and encouraging people to get back into their work.

You may be a servant leader if you:

Benefits: Servant leaders can increase employee productivity and loyalty, enhance employee growth and decision-making, foster trust, and develop the next generation of leaders.

Challenges: Servant leaders may experience burnout because they frequently put the needs of their team before their own. They may also find it difficult to be authoritative when necessary.

Example: A product manager arranges monthly one-on-one coffee meetings for anyone who has suggestions for improving the product or using it. She wants to use this time to respond to needs and provide assistance to anyone who is using the product.

4. Autocratic leadership style

This style of leader, also known as the “authoritarian style of leadership,” is primarily concerned with productivity and results. They frequently make decisions alone or with a small, trusted group, and they anticipate workers to carry out their instructions exactly. It may be beneficial to consider these leaders as military commanders.

Autocratic leadership can be beneficial in organizations with strict rules or in sectors with a high compliance rate. Additionally, it can be helpful when applied to workers who require extensive supervision, such as those with little to no experience. However, this management approach may stifle innovation and leave staff members feeling constrained.

You may be an autocratic leader if you:

Advantages: Autocratic leaders can increase productivity through delegation, foster direct and open communication, and lessen employee stress by taking quick decisions.

Challenges: Because they believe they are in charge of everything, autocratic leaders frequently experience high levels of stress. These leaders are frequently despised by the team because they lack adaptability and frequently refuse to listen to others’ ideas.

For instance, the surgeon carefully goes over the procedures and rules of the operating room with each team member who will assist during the procedure before the operation. She wants to make sure everyone is aware of the expectations and adheres to every step precisely so that the procedure goes as smoothly as possible.

5. Laissez-faire or hands-off leadership style

The laissez-faire leadership style contrasts with the autocratic leadership style by concentrating on giving team members a lot of responsibility while providing little to no direct supervision. A laissez-faire leader frequently has more time to devote to other projects because they do not spend their time intensely managing employees.

When all team members are highly skilled, trained, and need little supervision, managers may use this leadership style. However, it can also result in a decrease in productivity if staff members are unclear about their manager’s expectations or if some team members require constant encouragement and boundaries in order to function effectively.

You may be a laissez-faire leader if you:

Benefits: This approach promotes responsibility, creativity, and a laid-back workplace, which frequently results in higher employee retention rates.

Challenges: New employees need mentoring and hands-on assistance at first, so a laissez-faire leadership style does not work well for them. This approach may also result in a lack of structure, unclear leadership, and underappreciated employee support.

For instance, Keisha tells new hires that her engineers can manage their own work schedules as long as they are monitoring and achieving the team goals that they have set. Additionally, they have the freedom to explore and take part in initiatives outside of their team.

6. Democratic or participative leadership style

The democratic leadership style, also known as the “participative style,” combines the traits of autocratic and laissez-faire leaders. A democratic leader solicits feedback from their team and takes it into account before making decisions. A democratic leadership style is frequently credited with fostering higher levels of employee engagement and workplace satisfaction because team members feel their voice is heard and their contributions matter.

This style of leadership encourages discussion and participation, making it a great fit for businesses that value creativity and innovation, like those in the technology sector.

You may be a democratic/participative leader if you:

Employees under this leadership style may experience feelings of empowerment, value, and unity. It has the power to boost retention and morale. Additionally, because employees frequently participate in decision-making processes and are aware of what needs to be done, it requires less managerial oversight.

Challenges: This leadership approach may be ineffective and expensive because it requires a lot of time to coordinate large-group discussions, gather suggestions and feedback, discuss potential outcomes, and communicate decisions. Additionally, it may increase social pressure for team members who dislike exchanging ideas in a group setting.

As a store manager, Jack has selected a number of talented and committed team members that he trusts. Jack only serves as the final arbiter when deciding on storefronts and floor plans, allowing his team to proceed with their suggestions. He is there to provide clarification and discuss improvements with his team.

7. Pacesetter leadership style

For quick results, one of the most effective approaches is pacesetting. Leaders who set the pace are primarily concerned with performance, frequently have high expectations, and hold their teams accountable for achieving their objectives.

Although the pacesetting leadership style is energizing and useful in hectic situations where team members need to be inspired, it isn’t always the best choice for team members who require guidance and criticism.

You may be a pacesetter leader if you:

Benefits: Pacesetting leadership encourages staff to reach milestones and complete tasks related to the company’s goals. It promotes high-energy and dynamic work environments.

Challenges: Employees who are constantly working towards a goal or deadline may become stressed out as a result of pacesetting leadership. Fast-paced workplaces can also result in misunderstandings or a lack of clear instructions.

Example: The leader of a weekly meeting realized that the meeting’s purpose was not justified by taking an hour out of everyone’s schedule once a week. She changed the meeting to a 15-minute standup with only those who had status updates to improve efficiency.

8. Transformational leadership style

Similar to the coach style, the transformational style emphasizes goal-setting, clear communication, and employee motivation. However, the transformational leader is motivated by a dedication to organizational goals rather than investing the majority of their energy in the personal goals of each employee.

The best teams for transformational leadership are those that can handle a lot of delegated tasks without constant supervision because transformational leaders spend a lot of time on overarching goals.

You may be a transformational leader if you:

Benefits: Transformational leaders prioritize developing close relationships with their teams, which can increase employee satisfaction and retention. In addition, it values team and company ethics rather than only focusing on the end goal.

Challenges: Because transformational leaders focus on individuals, team or corporate victories may go unnoticed. These leaders can also overlook details.

Example: Reyna is hired to lead a marketing department. The CEO requests that she establish new objectives and assemble teams to achieve them. The first few months in her new position are spent getting to know the business and the marketing team. She gains a solid understanding of modern trends and organizational advantages. She asked people to set personal goals that correspond with the clear targets she had set for each of the teams that reported to her after three months.

9. Transactional leadership style

Like a pacesetter, a transactional leader is totally committed to performance. In accordance with this management approach, the manager creates predetermined incentives, typically in the form of a monetary bonus for achievement and disciplinary action for failure. However, transactional leaders also prioritize mentoring, education, and training to achieve objectives and reap the benefits, in contrast to pacesetter leaders.

Although this kind of leader is excellent for groups or teams charged with achieving particular objectives, like sales and revenue, it’s not the best leadership style for encouraging creativity.

You may be a transactional leader if you:

Benefits: Transactional leaders help goals get accomplished by setting short-term objectives and establishing a clearly defined structure.

Challenges: A company may struggle with adversity if it is overly focused on short-term goals and does not have long-term goals. When there are no financial incentives, this approach stifles creativity and demotivates workers.

Using this as an illustration, a bank branch manager meets with each team member every two weeks to discuss how they can achieve and surpass monthly company goals to qualify for bonuses. The top ten students in the district are each given a financial incentive.

10. Bureaucratic leadership style

Autocratic and bureaucratic leaders both demand that their team members adhere to the rules and procedures exactly as written.

The bureaucratic style prioritizes fixed tasks within a hierarchy, each employee having a predetermined list of duties, and there is little need for cooperation or originality. The best places for this type of leadership are those with a lot of regulations, like the financial, medical, or governmental sectors.

You may be a bureaucratic leader if you:

Benefits: In organizations that must adhere to stringent rules and regulations, the bureaucratic leadership style can be effective. Each member of the group or business has a distinct role, which promotes efficiency. To prevent tainting the team’s ability to achieve its goals, these leaders keep work and relationships separate.

Challenges: This approach does not encourage creativity, which some employees may find restrictive. Additionally, this leadership style is slow to adapt and does not flourish in a dynamic environment.

As an illustration, managers at a Department of Motor Vehicles office direct their staff to operate within a predetermined framework. To complete a task with strict order and guidelines, they must go through numerous steps.

The importance of developing a leadership style

You might identify some areas to strengthen or broaden your own leadership style by taking the time to become familiar with each of these leadership philosophies. Additionally, you will learn how to work with managers who have different management styles from your own and recognize other leadership styles that might better serve your current objectives.

How to choose and develop your leadership style

It can be beneficial to select a leadership style that feels authentic to you if you’re interested in the leadership path or want more structure in your approach to leadership. When attempting to ascertain which style is best for you, you may consider asking yourself the following questions:

These are just a few examples of questions you should ask yourself as you read about various leadership philosophies in order to determine which one you relate to the most. To develop your leadership style consider these strategies:

Even though you may have been successful in one position using one style of leadership, another one might call for a different set of behaviors to make sure your team is working as efficiently as possible. You can choose the best leadership style for your current situation by being aware of each of these leadership types and the results they are intended to achieve.

1 Employer-based study by US Decipher/Focus Vision (N=1,000 respondents overall; base: all respondents)


What are the 12 leadership styles?

10 leadership styles and their pros and cons
  • Autocratic Leadership. …
  • Transactional Leadership. …
  • Bureaucratic Leadership. …
  • Charismatic Leadership. …
  • Transformational Leadership. …
  • Coaching Leadership. …
  • Democratic Leadership. …
  • Collaborative Leadership.

What are the 8 leadership styles?

12 LEADERSHIP STYLES for successful leaders
  • Bureaucratic.
  • Transactional.
  • Authoritarian.
  • Authoritative.
  • Visionary.
  • Pacesetting.
  • Democratic.
  • Coaching.

What are the 7 leadership styles?

Eight Common Leadership Styles
  • Transactional Leadership. …
  • Transformational Leadership. …
  • Servant Leadership. …
  • Democratic Leadership. …
  • Autocratic Leadership. …
  • Bureaucratic Leadership. …
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership. …
  • Charismatic Leadership.

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