12 Different Types of Leadership Styles

According to Research by asaecenter, leadership style is the way a person uses power to lead other people. Research has identified a variety of leadership styles based on the number of followers. The most appropriate leadership style depends on the function of the leader, the followers and the situation.

Some leaders cannot work comfortably with a high degree of followers’ participation in decision-making. Some employers lack the ability or the desire to assume responsibility.

Furthermore, the specific situation helps determine the most effective style of interactions. Sometimes leaders must handle problems that require immediate solutions without consulting followers.

What are Different Types of Leadership Styles?

We have covered 12 different types of ways people tend to lead organizations or other people. Not all of these styles would fit every situation, but you can read them through to see which one fits your company.

1. Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership style is centered on the boss. In this leadership the leader holds all authority and responsibility. In this leadership, leaders make decisions on their own without consulting subordinates.

They reach decisions, communicate them to subordinates and expect prompt implementation. An autocratic work environment normally has little or no flexibility.

In this kind of leadership, guidelines, procedures and policies are all natural additions of an autocratic leader. Statistically, there are very few situations that can actually support autocratic leadership.

Some of the leaders that display this kind of leadership include: Albert J. Dunlap (Sunbeam Corporation) and Donald Trump (Trump Organization), among others.

Steve Jobs is another leader who was famous for using fear to inspire people to get their work done. This leadership style can obviously stifle the leader’s subordinates, but can also be useful in a crisis when important decisions need to be made without delay. You can read leadership quotes by Steve Jobs and many other visionary leaders.

2. Democratic Leadership

In this leadership style, subordinates are involved in making decisions. Unlike the autocratic style, this leadership is centered on subordinates’ contributions. The democratic leader holds final responsibility, but he or she is known to delegate authority to other people, who determine work projects.

The most unique feature of this leadership is that communication is active upward and downward. With respect to statistics, democratic leadership is one of the most preferred styles of leadership, and it entails the following: fairness, competence, creativity, courage, intelligence and honesty.

George Washington was a leader who was famous for his democratic focus. Medical and high-tech industries fit well with a democratic leadership style because they require a high amount of collaboration to function.

3. Strategic Leadership Style

Strategic leadership is one that involves a leader who is essentially the head of an organization. The strategic leader is not limited to those at the top of the organization. This style is geared to a wider audience at all levels who want to create a high performance life, team or organization.

The strategic leader fills the gap between the need for new possibility and the need for practicality by providing a prescriptive set of habits. Effective strategic leadership delivers the goods in terms of what an organization naturally expects from its leadership in times of change. 55% of this leadership normally involves strategic thinking.

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Sports is clearly an area where we can observe many leadership styles, and one in which strategy is crucial. Hockey player and coach Wayne Gretzky is well-known for his skill in strategizing.

Strategic leaders anticipate future needs and make decisions in the present to meet those needs. Gretzky famously said, “‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

4. Transformational Leadership

Unlike other leadership styles, transformational leadership is all about initiating change in organizations, groups, oneself and others.

Transformational leaders motivate others to do more than they originally intended and often even more than they thought possible. They set more challenging expectations and typically achieve a higher performance.

Statistically, transformational leadership tends to have more committed and satisfied followers. This is mainly so because transformational leaders empower followers.

William Edwards Deming, a statistician and engineer, is a leader who saw the best way certain systems could operate and taught those under him how to accomplish these goals.

5. Team Leadership

Team leadership involves the creation of a vivid picture of a team’s future, where it is heading and what it will stand for. The vision inspires and provides a strong sense of purpose and direction.

Team leadership is about working with the hearts and minds of all those involved. It also recognizes that teamwork may not always involve trusting cooperative relationships.

The most challenging aspect of this leadership is whether or not it will succeed. According to Harvard Business Review, team leadership may fail because of poor leadership qualities, as well as other challenges. For example, an airline flight crew would be much more efficient if the team remained consistent.

Studies have shown that teams that have worked together for a long period of time are more effective than those that have not. But because keeping a flight crew together would be expensive, crews change their members all the time. Situations such as this are just one example of the challenges teams face.

6. Cross-Cultural Leadership

This form of leadership normally exists where there are various cultures in the society. This leadership has also industrialized as a way to recognize front-runners who work in the contemporary globalized market.

Organizations, particularly international ones, require leaders who can effectively adjust their leadership to work in different environs. Most of the leadership environments in the United States are cross-cultural because of the different cultures that live and work there.

One example of a cross-cultural leader in sports is quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Mariota Marcus. His Hawaiian background caused him to be an unpretentious player, in contrast to being a more aggressive one, yet he was still successful.

7. Facilitative Leadership

Facilitative leadership is dependent on measurements and outcomes – not a skill, although it takes much skill to master. The effectiveness of a group is directly related to the efficacy of its process. If the group is high functioning, the facilitative leader uses a light hand on the process.

On the other hand, if the group is low functioning, the facilitative leader will be more directive in helping the group run its process. An effective facilitative leadership involves monitoring group dynamics, as well as offering process suggestions and interventions to help the group stay on track.

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8. Laissez-faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leadership gives authority to employees. According to azcentral, departments or subordinates are allowed to work as they choose with minimal or no interference. According to research, this kind of leadership has been consistently found to be the least satisfying and least effective management style.

But to a certain extent, delegating is necessary. Famous historical projects led by laissez-faire leaders include the building of the Panama Canal and the Hoover Dam. With both projects, the presidents involved had to delegate many responsibilities in order to succeed.

Completion of Panama Canal in 1904 was a complicated feat. This was only made possible when American President of that time Theodore Roosevelt decided to lead this project. The successful completion of Panama Canal is an engineering marvel, because of its geographical location it came across several road blocks and incidents, but all hurdles were overcome as authority was correctly delegated to professionals.

9. Transactional Leadership

This is a leadership style that maintains or continues the status quo. It is also the leadership that involves an exchange process, whereby followers get immediate, tangible rewards for carrying out the leader’s orders. Transactional leadership can sound rather basic, with its focus on exchange.

Being clear, focusing on expectations, giving feedback are all important leadership skills. Transactional leadership behaviors can include: clarifying what is expected of followers’ performance, explaining how to meet such expectations, and allocating rewards that are contingent on meeting objectives.

10. Coaching Leadership

Coaching leadership involves teaching and supervising followers. A coaching leader is highly operational in settings where results/performance require improvement.

Basically, in this kind of leadership, followers are helped to improve their skills. Coaching leadership does the following: motivates followers, inspires followers and encourages followers.

Some examples of people who have led through coaching are tennis coach Nick Bollettieri and dog behaviorist Cesar Milan.

11. Charismatic Leadership

In this type of leadership, the charismatic leader manifests his or her revolutionary power. Charisma does not mean sheer behavioral change. It actually involves a transformation of followers’ values and beliefs.

Therefore, charismatic leaders are not merely a simply populist leaders who affect attitudes towards specific objects. Rather, these leaders transform the underlying normative orientation that structures specific attitudes.

Charismatic leaders tend to have powerful personalities and attract huge followings. Examples of such leaders are Barak Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

12. Visionary Leadership

This form of leadership involves leaders who recognize that the methods, steps and processes of leadership are all obtained with and through people.

Most great and successful leaders have some sort of vision for where they are going. However, there are those who are highly visionary in their leadership.

Examples of leaders who had powerful and inspirational visions include Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Outstanding leaders will always transform their visions into realities.

Image Credits: Pexels / Rawpixel

Ahmad in a nutshell is product of passion, enthusiasm and adventure. He loves to write around anything that involves behaviors, art, business and what makes people happier.

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  1. kashif khan says:

    Very nice lecture. There are too many leadership styles! come to think of it, which one is the most effective of them all and which one is widely used? What sort of style do parents exercise on their kids, and which one is most effective?

    • patience says:

      pls I need info on servant leadership style

      • Adarsh says:

        Servant leadership is a one of the types of Democratic in which one person advice than other responsible person do the work with their job description.
        Adarsh Uppadhayay
        M. Sc. Nursing student

        • Themba says:

          Servant leadership is more focused on people and the leader sacrifices his priorities for people. People are given an opportunity by the leader and their preferences are prioritised.

      • Chere says:

        thank you, can you say more on military leadership

        • Grace Oshun says:

          Military leadership is largely Autocratic – the leader gives order and the followers obey without questioning. The leader does not consult or seek the opinion of his subordinates. His word is law.

          • big T says:

            what IS the difference bettwen nomothetic leadership and Autocracy

    • Anagu Esther says:

      Hi Kashif Khan, no leadership style is the most effective. It all depends on the situation. That’s why it’s advisable for one to be a situational leader, he makes use of the various styles depending on the situation.
      Leadership style used on kids, like I said, SITUATIONAL.
      All the best Khan!

  2. Bozdar, M says:

    A village or rural chief holds leadership authority. A rural lord is all about for the people. In which leadership style one could place this chieftain?

    • Shafaq says:

      I feel that is Democratic leadership style, as in villages they consult people and chief takes final decision.

    • Lawal Samson says:

      Servant Leadership, one of the latest trend in leadership styles. If Village chief is smart enough he would use this type of leadership style to win over other people in his village.

    • MOSES says:

      This kind of leadership style could possibly the Autocratic leadership. That is possibly because the chief might have an egoistic attitude towards other villagers and somehow think of himself highly of others. He is more likely practice the old saying “my way or the highway”.

  3. louia says:

    Hello I’m Louis I need a spirited leadership please help me with suitable texts

    • Pamela says:

      It has to come from within. I mean a higher level of spirituality. A leader is not just being on top of the hierarchy, it is also being member from the grassroots — but a prime mover . Having work from different places and different management styles . There is also a need to have somebody in the lower rank who can implement and execute different roles in the organization by making up for the inadequacies of the many. It entails good working attitude and values ( i.e. patience,understanding,empathy,dedication,non judgemental ,humility ,sincerity and the like ) inside out as a person. Otherwise,people will ostracized you or that person.

  4. chemowo timothy says:

    thanks for your presentations but i would wish that you back them with examples and references. it will make it much more reliable.

  5. Ayodele Aguisto says:

    Political leaders should be watched by electorates before voting them into power if such a politician is the type that will suit their purpose and interest.

  6. Rev. Edward Somuah says:

    Very good and interesting information used in my leadership seminar for my church

  7. harry says:

    pls can u help me wit dis question? Discuss the various types of leadership and make recommendations wit concrete reasons for the types of leadership that s Gud for nigeria.

  8. Penelope Laine says:

    Really quick and easy to follow and comprehend. It would be good to note that one person may be a blend of these dependant on their age, experience and the company they are dealing with

  9. Tshokolo says:

    You have applied for managerial position in large business. As part of the selection process,you have been requested to put your proposed management strategy in writing for the interview panel. You realize that you need to express your ideas on both efficient management and effective leadership.
    which leadership styles are most the important?

  10. leo says:

    The kind of leadership Philippines have now is Charismatic Leadership

  11. Shafaq says:

    I feel this article is very nice – some examples would have been more useful for better understanding.

  12. Dammike says:

    Good job. If you can please add some contemporary examples to the note in future, it would add a lot more context to your piece. Also, some pros and cons for each style will help us understand the topic a lot better.

  13. Dr. EK Lungu says:

    Great information on leadership style. I will use this in my village in Zambia

  14. Eilidh Archibald says:

    Brilliant info!! Thanks for this it has helped me pass my SQA leadership class

  15. Bella Gallegos says:

    Yes, examples would be nice, but just think of your friends and family’s. Think of your parents, uncles or aunts, or even neighbours and your grand parents and think what sort of influence they exert on others and what sort of work ethics they have then connect dots with this material and you will have real life examples.

  16. DESIRE T GUMBO says:

    Thanks for the lecture but can you kindly explain more about these types of leadership:
    Bureaucratic leadership
    Sage leadership
    Emperor leadership
    Monarch leadership
    Servant leadership

  17. Benedict Guma says:

    Good notes thank you, what about Delegation style? I mean what are the key characteristics that can help distinguish delegation leadership style from any other model. At times it feels like a people don’t have any specific style or methodology, it is more of a pick and mix of various styles in different situations.

  18. David Cormier says:

    I would like to know who is the author of this article? Also how the author came about the studies of this materials?

    David Cormier

  19. Myer T.KNyanti says:

    I have been trying to understand several leadership concepts at same time and most of the information I have come across so far had been too extensive to fully understand, but reading through this I guess I am now ready to score a good grade in my test. Cheers!

  20. Sabo Shedrack A. says:

    You have spanciate a lot about the leadership style. Mr writer which one of these you follow or personally recommend?

  21. Nyero patrick says:

    The information is enriching and no easily found in other usual documentations.

  22. Moses says:

    Thanks for information.

    If the merits and demerits of each style is talked about could be so good, it will help us understand and consume the information much easily.

  23. Obaid Ur Rehman says:

    It is very informative and nice lecture. But I disagree respectfully. I feel it is a stretch of four Basic types of leadership. for example Democratic Leadership, team leadership, facilitative leadership & Laissez-faire Leadership is kind of same. where tasks are mostly delegated and provided guidance. Transformational, charismatic and coaching leadership are the qualities of a leadership not necessarily the style of leadership. I would rather make it easy for people to recognize their style of leadership. A leader must have a vision, he needs to coach his followers to develop them and lead from the front to inspire (or become charismatic) his followers. all these are qualities rather then styles.

  24. Sugunah says:

    Any book about considerations leadership and initiating leadership. I shall really appreciate if someone can shed some light on some of the books they have written on these two very subjects!!

  25. Slendernator says:

    when the chair person is inviting you to give your opinion. What leadership style is that? Is the invitation pretty much like a summon wrapped in polite or fancy words, or they are genuinely humble and progressive nature leaders who truly want to resolve the problem at hand?

  26. Ben-Gurion says:

    Thanks so much for this study note. It’s really useful and a blessing to me. It has added so much to me. I now understand leadership styles very well. Thanks.

  27. Notgonna Givemynane says:

    The categories have far too much overlap. Rather than portray leadership styles as 12 discreet boxes, may I suggest 2 or 3 axes, with a continuum on each axis. For instance directive vs delegative, participate vs autocratic.

  28. Cheryl Teodoro says:

    Generous to share ideas.Great explanation! short but complete sense. Thank you.it can help in my research.

  29. York says:

    Please can I get reference for these paper? The note is self explanatory, but chunk of examples under each leadership model will help us understand the concept better.

  30. Hatanto says:

    Great thinkers, greater achievers. These note are always useful.

  31. Stephanie says:

    To be a leader you must first be a follower….. Knowing when to step up and when to step down, is the first thing you learn.

  32. peter kiige says:

    Great sharing. After reading the Laisez -faire leadership , am beginning to compare it with the Modern Agile leadership model, since both are more to do with self drive of the players (Stake holders). However, the challenge is with the author’s perspective of Laisez -faire of leader ship, that it is quite less preferred in organizations. Agile as a modern system is seemingly taking lead of issues in the today era. Could I be correct , to try and influence the authors mind set about Laisez and try to bring it closer to Agile type as the way to go today. This is greatly being experienced by the Spark group of companies. Yeah!!!

  33. Maxwell says:

    Wow, I have less words to say all I can only seek is great appreciation from this lecture. it has really helped me. thanks very much. The detailed examples of different leaders really explains the true nature and effectiveness of different styles. I think each leader should go through extensive training/coaching before they are given certain leadership roles. Once they have training, they would know which style to follow in different types of scenarios.

  34. Rosina Akorfa Klu says:

    Thanks A lot on the above lectures. I now know what of leadership style I follow, before I did not have a name attached to it.

  35. Nyasha Manhau says:

    Very nice lecture, our President has introduced servant leadership cascading down from his cabinet to the ministries’ departments. If well implemented it augurs well with the populace.

  36. cyanne says:

    It’s a good thing I am doing homework on that. Beside homework, I aim to exercise some of these styles into my daily routines and practically see which one of these fits right for me.

  37. Ejaz SHAIKH says:

    Quit a good informative info abt leadership types bt I felt that in charismatic leadership you should provide more depth, bt over all it’s up to the mark

  38. Suh I Fru Norbert says:

    Thanks for this brief and straight-to-the- point examination of various leadership styles. However, I will to have each style illustrated by concrete and real world examples.

  39. Haimanot says:

    What of smart notes. However, better of putting actual examples (touching country) Or preferably examples of some famous people from past of or current era who are in leadership positions from across the globe.

  40. Ms Elgiva says:

    Thanks.Good presentation.
    I personally feel in today’s world a situational leader is the best.It is important to first study the group we are going to lead, specially their intellect and capabilities and then take the lead.
    The aim of good leadership is to make a person grow and train them to be future leaders. We must be around when they first walk the gangway. Empathy is a n important quality.

  41. Phos Sophea says:

    Can you help to add example and activities of leader for each leadership styles, and help to detail the pros and cons and which situation to preform those styles.

  42. William Mandhlopa says:

    servant leadership is not democratic
    servant leadership
    Greenleaf (1977) defined the “servant leader as servant first”. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” The person is completely different from the one who lead first, the power that drive the lead first may be to acquire possessions, while the servant first has inner drive to serve.
    Democratic Leadership
    In this leadership style, subordinates are involved in making decisions. Unlike the autocratic style, this leadership is centered on subordinates’ contributions. The democratic leader holds final responsibility, but he or she is known to delegate authority to other people, who determine work projects.

  43. John Luu says:

    People today forgotten about Emotional Leadership. How well they use their best emotional intelligent influence people in a multicultural and a very effective ways working in a fair work Australian workplace environment.

  44. Esther says:

    What’s the difference between leadership styles and leadership models please?

  45. owoicho Benjamin says:

    Professional diploma in education. What an excellent note. Include examples of the pronounced leaders been it present or past. Thanks.

  46. Malual Ajuut says:

    what is the difference between the dictatorship leadership and military leadership please?

  47. Abin Babu says:

    any one please helps.where i can get this pdf of this studies

  48. Debasis dhal says:

    Well, but I want to know that which of these is more suitable for a country like India.

    • shebby says:

      Paternalistic leadership; Under this management style the leader assumes that his function is fatherly or paternal. Paternalism means papa knows best. The relationship between the leader and his group is the same as the relationship between the head of the family and the members of the family. The leader guides and protects his subordinates as members of his family.
      As the head of the family he provides his subordinates with good working conditions and fringe benefits. It is assumed that workers will work harder out of gratitude. This leadership style was admirably successful in Japan with her peculiar social background.
      This leadership style has still been widely prevalent in small firms in India. However, this paternalistic approach is unlikely to work with mature adult employees, many of whom do not like their interests to be looked after by a “godfather.” Instead of gratitude, it might generate antagonism and resentment in the subordinates.
      Despite the common fundamentals that you can follow to enhance your leadership skills, each individual should also have their own leadership style. This will be dependent on your personality and the situation you are in. Some would describe their style as ‘autocratic’, MBWA (‘management by walking about’), ‘participative’, ‘deserter’ or ‘detached’. These work well in some situations, and we are going to look at how different styles might be appropriate for your organisation.


    Am Mukisa Philegon Kaniike, a Ugandan Male Citizen.
    Am very appreciative about the presentation concerning the different styles of leadership which has greatly torched my heart in conducting a research study about my book themed: “DEVELOPING A MASTER-SERVANT HEART” soon to be finalized.
    keep it up.
    its inspirational, motivational and educative.
    Regards to all TEAM.

  50. Omara Christopher says:

    It’s quite good,but leaders should vary them than sticking to one form for purposes of harmonising and avoiding monopolly to a leadership style.

  51. David says:

    Depends on the situation. The leader needs to be able to adjust the leadership style as needed to serve the situation.

  52. uwagboe Rose says:

    This is a good submission but the strategic leadership need some clarification
    job weldone

  53. Secilia Kiptoo says:

    Thank you very much for the lecture and the feedback from other, I have used most of this in my assignment.
    I had only known the 4 leadership style, no as I am reading I see emotional is also leadership? Please explain more

  54. Cedric says:

    This is great,congrats to the entire team.This is a Kenyan wishing you keep enlightening us

  55. Verona McCarthy says:

    The reading provides a lot of information and clarify a few questions of my own.

  56. HAILAY SHIFARE says:

    Which types of leadership styles are more relevant in public service organizations?

  57. shehryar says:

    elon musk leadership style please

  58. binyam endale says:

    i want to know the difference between:-
    dictator Vs autocratic;
    democratic Vs participatory
    and clear concepts about directive;delegative; empowering leadership styles

  59. binyam endale says:

    How organisational chnage is related to employees empowerment

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