Co-founder of WPdots.io

Leadership-Styles

The 8 Different Leadership Styles and How to Find Your Own

A great leader is one who is…” 

This incomplete sentence serves as a mirror reflecting the diversity of leadership styles that exist. 

Leadership styles encompass a leader’s behaviors, methods, and approaches to directing, managing, and motivating others. Our leadership style evolves as we evolve in our roles, reflecting our growth and adaptability. 

In this journey of self-discovery, understanding and embracing our leadership style is pivotal to becoming effective leaders. Let’s embark on this exploration together, delving into the intricacies of eight distinct leadership styles and uncovering how to find the one that resonates with us.

Understanding Different Leadership Styles

Leadership styles are not one-size-fits-all; they are as diverse as the individuals who wield them. Each style offers unique advantages and challenges, shaping the dynamics of teams and organizations. 

From autocratic to laissez-faire, democratic to transformational, each style imprints how teams function, collaborate, innovate, and achieve goals. By understanding the characteristics and nuances of each style, we gain insight into our leadership tendencies and preferences.

    1. Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership involves an authoritarian leadership style

In this type of leadership, the leader will focus primarily on efficiency and results. They make decisions alone and expect the team to perform and achieve what they have asked. This is one of the widely used leadership styles in business and is most effective in compliance-heavy industries or organizations that follow strict guidelines and where extensive supervision is required. 

It’s also effective when dealing with employees with little or no experience. The downside of autocratic leadership is that it can make people feel confined by throttling their creativity. We might think of a military commander to understand autocratic leadership. 

 Characteristics of an Autocratic Leader:

  • Self-confident
  • Self-motivated
  • Assertive communication
  • Dependable in tough situations
  • Follows the rules strictly
  • Great supervisors
  • Working in highly structured environments.

    2. Laissez-Faire Leadership

Also known as “Hands-off Leadership” – Laissez-Faire leadership is the exact opposite of Autocratic leadership. 

In this leadership, leaders mostly focus on delegating tasks to employees and provide little or no supervision. Because leaders don’t invest much time managing employees, they spend time on other projects and planning. 

This is one of the best leadership styles in modern management, where all team members are well-trained and highly experienced and require little or no supervision. Since it encourages a relaxing work environment, creativity, and accountability; employees’ retention rates are higher. 

The downside is that it doesn’t work well when fresh employees need extensive hands-on support and guidance in the beginning.

    Characteristics of a Laissez-Faire Leader:

  • Permissive
  • Noninterventionist
  • Delegative
  • Freedom-givers
  • Controlling if and when needed
  • Providing sufficient tools and resources 
  • Encouraging a sovereign work environment
  • Doing constructive criticism
  • Fostering leadership qualities in their team

    3. Democratic Leadership 

Also known as “participative leadership” – democratic leadership combines aspects of both the autocratic and laissez-faire types of leadership. 

As the name indicates, this type of leadership involves input and feedback from the team before making decisions. This leadership is most effective since employees feel that their contribution matters. 

They feel more empowered, unified, and valued. Because they are a part of every decision-making process, they know how to perform well to achieve the tasks.  

The downside of democratic leadership is that it’s time-intensive (organizing big group meetings and discussions). Hence, it becomes costly, especially for large teams and organizations. Also, some employees might feel pressured because they don’t like to share their ideas in a big group setting. 

 Characteristics of a Democratic Leader:

  • Rational
  • Flexible
  • Mediator 
  • Encouraging group discussions
  • Encouraging a democratic work environment
  • Communicative while making decisions

    4. Coach-Style Leadership

In coach-style leadership, the leader quickly recognizes individual team members’ strengths and weaknesses and coaches them according to the situation. 

Leaders help people in setting smart goals and provide regular challenging projects and feedback to promote growth. This type of leadership is one of the most advantageous leadership styles in business for promoting free thinking, empowering, developing new skills, revisiting organizations’ objectives, and fostering a strong company culture.  

On the other hand, the downside of coach-style leadership is that it’s a time-intensive practice and may not work in all types of organizations and settings. So, the leaders have to spend more one-on-one time with their team members, which could be hard to achieve in deadline-driven environments. 

 Characteristics of a Coach-Style Leader:

  • Supportive
  • Self-aware
  • Guiding instead of commanding
  • Asking guided questions
  • Promoting learning for growth

    5. Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leadership goes by the books. This type of leadership is very similar to autocratic leadership except that the employees must follow the rules, regulations, and procedures; precisely written in the company’s policy. 

The team has little or no space for creativity and collaboration since all employees have fixed duties and responsibilities. 

This leadership style is effective in organizations that follow strict regulations like government, health care, or finance departments. The downside of this type of leadership is that it doesn’t encourage freedom and creativity so the employees can feel restricted

   Characteristics of a Bureaucratic Leader

  • Detail-oriented
  • Strong-willed
  • Self-disciplined
  • Committed to their organization
  • Following rules and structures
  • Having great work ethics

    6. Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership is also known as “visionary leadership”.  

The strategic leaders can drive progress by inspiring people and winning trust for their inspirational ideas. They foster confidence and establish a strong bond among their team members

Strategic leadership is especially effective in smaller, fast-growing companies, or larger corporates undergoing restructuring or transformations. The downside of visionary leadership is that because leaders are more future-oriented and accustomed to seeing the big picture, they tend to ignore present-day issues so there are chances that their team might feel unheard. 

Characteristics of a Strategic Leader:

  • Strategic
  • Inspirational
  • Optimistic
  • Magnetic
  • Risk-takers
  • Innovative and Inspirational
  • Bold and Persistent

    7. Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership is one of the most common leadership styles in management. 

A transactional leader is focused on the performance of the employees and gives them bonuses for exactly the goals they accomplish. 

This leadership style is effective for organizations tasked with achieving short-term, targeted goals, such as revenue and sales. 

The downside of transactional leadership is that a company might have to face tough circumstances by being too focused on short-term goals and ignoring lasting achievements.  It also throttles creativity and is uninspiring for the employees who don’t get monetary incentives. 

Characteristics of a Transactional Leader

  • Micromanager
  • Value short-term goals
  • Reactionary
  • Don’t question authority
  • Value organizational structure
  • Practical and rational

    8. Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is very similar to coach-style leadership as it promotes employees’ motivation, goal-setting, and communication. 

However, transformational leaders are driven by their commitment to organizational goals, unlike coach-style leaders, for whom, employees’ individual goals matter. Since transformational leaders spend too much time on the principle goals, this leadership style is effective for multitasking employees who need no constant supervision. 

The downside is that employees can’t receive the coaching required for new responsibilities because transformational leaders don’t look at the learning curves of each employee. 

Characteristics of a Transformational Leader

  • Creative
  • Encouraging
  • Inspiring
  • Understanding organizational needs
  • Thinker of a big picture
  • Intellectually challenging their team

Finding Your Leadership Style:

Discovering our leadership style is a journey of self-awareness, reflection, and experimentation. By assessing our strengths, values, and preferences, we gain clarity on the leadership approach that aligns with who we are. 

Through trial and adaptation, we refine our style, drawing inspiration from diverse leadership paradigms and incorporating feedback from our teams. As we embrace our unique leadership identity, we cultivate environments where individuals thrive, teams flourish, and organizations excel.

Ask yourself the following questions to decide which leadership style will fit you the most:

  1. What do you value more – relationships or goals?
  2. Do you believe in organizational structure or creativity and freedom of choice? 
  3. Do you focus on short-term goals or long-term goals?
  4. Would you rather make collective decisions or decide on your own?
  5. What’s a strong team dynamic look like to you?
  6. Does inspiration come from direction or empowerment?

Read through all the leadership styles while answering these questions. You will understand which style works best for you. 

Consider the following strategies as well:

  • Experimentation: Try out different leadership styles in different situations and observe the outcomes. Show flexibility in modifying your approach.
  • Be authentic: Try to develop a leadership style that aligns with your strengths and helps them improve. 
  • Seek guidance: Reach out to the experienced leaders and ask them which style worked for them and how they developed it. 
  • Seek feedback: Seek feedback from your team members whom you trust the most. Consider their honest opinions to help improve leadership. 

Keep in mind that the majority of successful leaders borrow from different leadership styles to become effective leaders. Understanding all the styles and outcomes allows you to choose the right leadership styles that go well with your status quo.