LEADERSHIP STYLES: 7 Most Effective Styles 2023

leadership styles
northeastern university

Imagine those leaders or managers that inspire you. They are likely unique, with a distinct style that they employ to achieve goals, motivate, and inspire their people. There are numerous leadership styles, and each has a unique impact on a business. In this post, we will discuss the most common types of leadership styles of either managers or leaders, how they affect companies, why it is important to know your leadership style, and also provide tools to help you choose which styles are ideal for you. Start reading!

What is a Leadership Style?

A leader’s leadership style refers to the tactics, qualities, and behaviors they use to direct, motivate, and manage their people. A leader’s style is influenced by a number of characteristics, including personality, values, abilities, and experiences, and can have a substantial impact on their leadership effectiveness.

Their leadership style also influences how leaders build strategies, implement plans, and adapt to changes while managing stakeholders’ expectations and the well-being of their team.

In many circumstances, leaders will exhibit a variety of leadership styles and will most likely adapt to their situation. However, leaders frequently have a dominant style that they display more frequently.

Why is it Important to know your own Leadership Style?

When it comes to why it is important to know your leadership style, you should understand that your leadership style is vital as a leader. You can assess how your leadership style affects individuals you directly influence once you grasp it. It also assists you in identifying your leadership abilities and determining which leadership skills to pursue.

Some leaders can already categorize their present leadership style and determine whether it is effective. Alternatively, how their employees perceive them. However, this is not always the case. Leaders may usually categorize their style; yet, they frequently exhibit characteristics of many other leadership styles.

Detailed feedback is one simple method to learn about your leadership style. A useful practice is to request open and honest feedback from those you lead. This will help you adapt the qualities of your leadership style to your day-to-day tasks. Having known why it is important to know your leadership style, let’s then analyze the 7 most effective types of leadership styles.

Types of Leadership Styles

In management, there are seven common types of leadership styles, and each of which has a place in a leader’s toolkit:

  • Autocratic Leadership
  • Pacesetting Leadership
  • Transformational Leadership
  • Coaching Leadership
  • Democratic Leadership
  • Affiliative Leadership
  • Delegative Leadership

Here’s a look at the seven most common types of leadership styles, why they can be ineffective, and how to establish a style that allows you to adapt to different people and situations.

#1. Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leaders, often known as authoritarian leaders, is one of the prominent leadership styles of managers. They lay out a clear vision of an end goal and how to get there. They establish detailed boundaries and expectations for what, when, and how tasks should be completed. Traditionally, these leaders expect others to take their directions at face value and act on them right away.

Autocratic leaders are not necessarily “know-it-alls” who regard themselves as superior to their subordinates. In fact, they are frequently intensely focused on attaining efficient results by defined measures that they believe are in the best interests of the organization. An authoritarian leader may make choices with a limited group of trusted peers in some instances.

When reliable, predictable results are required, autocratic leadership is most effective, especially in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and construction. When there is little time for discussion or when people require a lot of clear guidance, autocratic leadership is very successful.

Advantages of autocratic leadership:

  • Decision-making processes are typically less time-consuming and more efficient than democratic processes.
  • Autocratic leadership, when implemented correctly, establishes clear guidelines for consistent results.

The disadvantages of autocratic Leadership are as follows:

  • Employees may not feel comfortable carrying out tasks if they lack confidence or trust in the leader.
  • Can be abused if an employer or manager changes work shifts or hours without consulting employees, for example.
  • By limiting group input, it is possible to forfeit innovation.

#2. Pacesetting Leadership

Pacesetters encourage squad players to sprint to the finish line. They roll up their sleeves and get right into the action, setting a good example and high expectations. Leaders who set the pace are usually very active. When working against deadlines or producing a new product or service, the goal is usually to drive results as efficiently as possible. Pacesetting, on the other hand, creates a high-pressure workplace that does not suit all personnel.

Pacesetting leadership is most effective when working with highly driven individuals that enjoy moving rapidly and seeing results. It’s an excellent leadership style for when a critical deadline must be fulfilled, particularly in a production or industrial context.

Pros of pacesetting leadership:

  • Effective method for swiftly achieving goals, objectives, and outcomes.
  • Employees that thrive in a fast-paced environment may find high, dynamic energy appealing.

Cons of pacesetting leadership:

  • Employee burnout can occur if everyone is continually running at full speed.
  • Not ideal for employees who thrive on mentorship and personalized feedback.
  • Mistakes are simpler to make in fast-paced, high-stress circumstances.

#3. Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders, also known as visionary leaders, are also one of the prominent leadership styles managers exhibit. They are deeply committed to the organization’s mission and long-term goals. They usually define goals by outlining where the company is headed and what will happen when they get there. This inspiring, forward-thinking vision is utilized to establish expectations that engage and energize personnel.

Transformational leaders may also encourage and empower team members to push themselves outside of their comfort zones for the sake of professional development and organizational success. Employees may be requested to contribute ideas on how to attain common objectives.

Transformational leadership is particularly effective in organizations that are rapidly growing or that have been straying and require direction. Transformational leadership is also effective in high-risk business transformations such as corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and other high-risk business transformations.

Advantages of transformational leadership:

  • Places a great value on the company’s future goal.
  • Motivation and inspiration are utilized to obtain support rather than coercion.
  • Can aid in the acceleration of a company’s growth.
  • Employee morale and retention may improve if employees feel genuinely linked to the company’s aims.

The disadvantages of transformational leadership are as follows:

  • A big picture perspective might make it easy to overlook nitty-gritty operational issues.
  • Long-term ambitions may necessitate the sacrifice of immediate concerns.
  • Leaders who fail to pay attention to employee needs risk losing sight of unique learning curves and workplace preferences.

#4. Coaching Leadership

Coaching leaders see their teams as talent reservoirs to be developed. These leaders, like sports coaches, provide employees with the guidance they need to tap into their strengths and accomplish their maximum potential – both individually and as a team.

Coaching leaders evaluate and cultivate an individual’s assets while providing motivated direction to address flaws through regular feedback. Leaders may also assign difficult initiatives to encourage growth.

Coaching leadership is comparable to transformational leadership in that it focuses on employees’ long-term potential and how their personal ambitions fit into the company’s larger vision.

When leaders have the time to give to individual employees, coaching leadership is most effective. This technique works best with employees who are aware of their limitations and open to new experiences and challenges.

Advantages of coaching leadership:

  • Individual and team morale might benefit from regular reinforcement.
  • Individualized attention can aid in the development of skills.
  • Can naturally foster a good environment.

Cons of coaching leadership:

  • It is time consuming.
  • It is easy to lose sight of the big picture when used solely.

#5. Democratic Leadership

Before making a decision, democratic leaders, also known as participatory leaders, which are also one of the types of leadership styles managers often show, seek input from their staff. Before creating an official course of action, the leader may raise a problem and solicit opinions from the entire team. The idea is to engage in a discourse and discussion that fosters group participation and obtains everyone’s “buy-in” to whatever the final decision is. Nonetheless, democratic leaders have the last say.

When you have the time to thoroughly analyze procedures and find out how to attain long-term objectives and goals, democratic leadership is most effective. Democratic leadership may be extremely effective in businesses and jobs that benefit from innovation and inspiration.

Advantages of democratic leadership:

  • Giving all employees a voice can increase engagement, morale, and retention.
  • Can aid in the development of trust and confidence in leaders.
  • Encourages creativity.

The disadvantages of democratic leadership:

  • Prolongs the decision-making process. It takes time to share knowledge and have in-depth interactions with staff.
  • Group dynamics can stifle productive conversation depending on the team.

#6. Affiliative Leadership

Affiliative leaders, also known as facilitative leaders, prioritize their staff. They pay special attention to and assist employees’ emotional and professional requirements. Finally, this technique encourages harmony and the formation of peaceful, collaborative relationships within teams. The majority of decisions are made by employees, but the leader is still involved in the decision-making process. Affiliative leaders frequently utilize praise and assistance to boost individual and team confidence.

When morale is low or there are conflicts among team members, affiliative leadership is most successful. Affiliative leadership can also be beneficial during high-stress periods, such as during extremely busy or short-staffed seasons. Affiliative leaders must have great communication skills and the ability to deal with disagreement calmly.

Advantages of affiliative leadership:

  • Morale, retention, and workplace satisfaction are likely to grow because employee well-being is a major priority.
  • Conflict could be resolved faster.

The disadvantages of affiliative leadership are as follows:

  • If not managed properly, a strong focus on the requirements of individuals might overwhelm the demands of the entire team.
  • Underperforming team members might hinder productivity if they are not appropriately handled.
  • Positive feedback alone can hinder employees’ learning and growth.

#7. Delegative Leadership

Delegative leaders, sometimes known as laissez-faire leaders, which are also one of the types of leadership styles managers often display, supply only the bare necessities. This enables employees to handle problems on their own, using their own ways. However, before allowing staff to take the reins, a competent delegative leader should specify clear limitations and expectations. Employees should make decisions, but delegative leaders should be present to discuss them as needed. Delegative leaders should keep an eye on team performance and provide comments on a regular basis.

When personnel are highly qualified self-starters with a proven track record, delegation is most effective. It’s also effective when trustworthy staff work on individual projects or when creative activities or difficulties necessitate outside-the-box thinking.

Advantages of delegative leadership:

  • Employees are empowered.
  • Experienced employees can fully utilize their knowledge and skills.
  • Allows leaders to focus on the big picture.

The disadvantages of delegative leadership are as follows:

  • If responsibilities, tasks, or expectations are unclear, productivity may suffer.
  • Disagreements among team members can be detrimental to morale if a mediator is not present.
  • For team members with less training or experience, this is frequently ineffective.

How to find your leadership style?

Choosing a leadership style that suits you can help you become a more effective leader. Whether you lead a large or small team, your leadership style has a significant impact on how your team perceives you. Here are a few pointers to get you started:

To begin, it is critical to be clear about your goals and what you want to achieve. It will be easier to express your ideas to your team and motivate them to follow your lead if you have a clear vision.

Second, try something new! There are numerous leadership styles, and the best way to discover your own is to try out various ways and observe what works best for you and your team.

Finally, remember that honestly leading is more important than being perfect. Others will naturally be drawn to you and your message if you lead from a position of passion and purpose. Remember, as a leader, it is critical to be open to (and actively seek) feedback and to be willing to alter your strategy as needed.

Can you change your leadership style?

You can always adapt your leadership style and enhance your procedures, even if it takes some time and work.

Recognizing the need for change is the first step toward making it happen. Identifying this is the first step, whether it comes from direct employee input, noting that targets aren’t being fulfilled, or individuals appear to be experiencing burnout.

Following that, you must prepare for adjustments. For example, your leadership style may be effective for your team, but you may struggle to connect with stakeholders. In this situation, you wouldn’t want to abandon your current approach but rather determine what is and isn’t working. Then, become curious and start working on changing the way you lead.

What are the 3 main Leadership Styles?

Kurt Lewin identified three sorts of company leadership styles in 1939: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire. Each, of course, has its own set of pros and downsides.

Which is the Best Leadership Style?

One of the most effective leadership styles is the democratic style, since it enables everyone to engage in all processes, voice their thoughts, and know that you will listen to them. It also motivates employees to participate since they know you will listen to their suggestions.

What are the 7 Elements of Leadership?

The seven elements include:

  • Transparency
  • Learn from Failure
  • Trust
  • Confidence
  • Decisiveness
  • Humility
  • Creativity

What is Positive Leadership Style?

Positive leadership is the intentional modeling, facilitation, and influence of positive emotions that motivate team members and employees to excel in their work. Through communication, accountability, emotional intelligence, inspiration, and a model work ethic, positive leaders foster an empowering workplace.


Whether you head a large or small team, you should really understand why it is important to know your leadership style. This is because your leadership style has a significant impact on how your direct reports see you and how your team collaborates to achieve your company’s goals. There are many various leadership styles, so finding one that fits for you might help you become a more effective leader. If you want to be a leader who makes a difference, you must continue to learn and embrace change. Are you prepared to begin?


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