11 Different and Unique Leadership Styles Explained

June 6, 2024

leadership styles

If you’ve enrolled in a leadership program at college or university, it’s important to learn about the different leadership styles, their meaning, and functions.

The one thing that should be clear about leadership styles is that they stem from factors such as organization preferences, experiences, organization culture, and company needs. And while every leader has personality traits unique to them, they’re more than likely to adopt a leadership style based on these factors.

But:

  • What are leadership styles?
  • How many types are there?

Let’s find out.

Key Takeaways

  • Leadership style is a method that a leader uses to direct, motivate, manage, and work with those under him.
  • There are more than 10 leadership styles, and they include democratic, pacesetting, autocratic, laissez-faire, strategic, transformational, transactional, coaching, bureaucratic, visionary, and situational leadership.
  • Once you decide what your leadership style is, it becomes easier to provide reasonably adequate guidance that help make the right business decisions.

What is a Leadership Style?

Before we look at the different types of leadership styles, it’s important that you know what a style in leadership is in the first place.

Ideally, a leadership style is the technique or behavioral approach that a leader employs to manage his or her team.

It also involves the leader’s approach to strategizing, implementing plans, and considering stakeholder expectations and team well-being.

It’s important to know the different leadership styles, and particularly your own, because:

  • It enables you to offer appropriate guidance and feedback to your employees.
  • It provides insight into your thought processes, decision-making tendencies, and potential strategies to consider when making business decisions.
  • It allows you to perceive how your direct reports perceive you and comprehend the reasons behind their specific feedback.

11 Types of Leadership Styles Explained

The following is a summary of the 11 types of leadership styles:

1. Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leadership involves the delegation of significant authority to employees. The leader will intervene only when necessary.

More often than not, laissez-faire leaders hold their employees accountable for their work, which provides them with an incentive to excel.

Because it fosters a more relaxed company culture, this leadership style is particularly suitable for creative businesses like ad agencies or product design firms.

2. Coaching Leadership

In coaching leadership, the focus is on identifying and nurturing team member’s strengths. Also, the leader has develop strategies that can help to enhance teamwork.

While coaching leadership shares some aspects with strategic and democratic leadership, it places a stronger emphasis on the success of individual employees.

A manager employing this leadership style may help employees improve their strengths by assigning new tasks, offering guidance, and engaging in constructive feedback discussions. They may also encourage employees to learn new skills from their teammates, expanding their capabilities.

3. Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership is a crucial position that bridges a company’s core operations with its growth prospects.

This style of leadership demands visionary thinking, a keen understanding of the competitive landscape, and adaptability.

Strategic leaders not only prioritize executive interests but also ensure a stable working environment for all employees.

Strategic leaders connect organizational growth plans and strategies with effective team management. They ask insightful questions, develop and execute strategies, and consider future growth opportunities.

Also, this leadership style supports a diverse range of employees. It encourages visualization, strategic planning, and the optimal utilization of existing resources, while also motivating employees to achieve their best.

4. Pacesetting Leadership

Pacesetting leadership involves setting ambitious standards and expecting employees to meet those goals precisely as outlined. These leaders prioritize productivity and high-quality outputs, and they may intervene to ensure proper tasks execution.

Leaders employing the pacesetting style establish ambitious goals accompanied by a clear and focused approach, enabling employees to understand precisely what they should do and the results they should deliver.

5. Situational Leadership

Situational leadership motivates employees by ensuring that they are working in a manner that may be ineffective for the given situation. It is particularly valuable for startups that require frequent adjustments and businesses that rely on flexible talent and support.

Situational leaders excel in communication and rely on team feedback to inform their decision-making process. They possess the ability to analyze market changes swiftly and update processes accordingly, thereby ensuring success.

6. Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders earn the trust and confidence of their teams, inspire and guide employees toward achieving company goals, and constantly seek to improve the organization’s practices.

Transformational leaders have the ability to inspire their teams to think innovatively. This can lead to the updating of business processes, resulting in improved productivity, profitability, and employee satisfaction. Furthermore, it promotes high morale and motivation among team members.

7. Democratic Leadership

Democratic leadership style characterized by the leader making decisions based on input from each team member. While the leader ultimately has the final say, every employee has an equal opportunity to contribute to the direction of a project.

Democratic leadership is highly effective because it encourages active participation from everyone in the team.

It creates an environment where team members can actively participate. And this helps to promotes employee empowerment, motivation, and overall engagement.

8. Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leaders adhere strictly to established rules. While they may listen and consider employee input, they tend to reject ideas that do not align with company policies or past practices.

Bureaucratic leadership is most effective in larger, well-established, or traditional companies that have found success through existing processes. This style helps maintain established business models and processes that have proven to be successful.

9. Autocratic Leadership

In autocratic leadership, the team leader prefers to make all business or organization decisions without seeking for input form others.

People who prefer this leadership style often possess a strong focus and decisiveness when implementing strategies and directives. When a situation demands it, an authoritative leader can make prompt decisions for the business without requiring additional input.

Ideally, this leadership style is most effective when a company needs to make difficult decisions that do not benefit from input from individuals who lack comprehensive knowledge on the subject.

10. Transactional Leadership

Managers employing transactional leadership to inform employees about the potential rewards if they meet specific goals. They may hold one-on-one meetings or check-ins when individuals fail to meet targets.

This leadership style assumes that teams require structure and monitoring to achieve business objectives and that they are motivated by rewards.

Because transactional leaders provide clarity and structure of expectations, employees tend to feel secure in understanding their responsibilities. At the end of the day, every employee has a clear view of the rewards he or she can expect in return for meeting business goals.

11. Visionary Leadership

Visionary leadership focuses on future-oriented and long-term goals. This style of leadership fosters collaboration, emotional intelligence, and teamwork.

These leaders possess the ability to create a clear roadmap for employees to follow and implement. Their effective and persuasive communication skills empower teams to strive for significant business growth.

With a focus on future expansion, visionary leaders can anticipate potential obstacles and devise action plans, instilling confidence in employees during times of uncertainty and challenges.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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