Eighteen Leadership Styles


Leadership is a very broad term and can cover a range of situations, organisations, etc. There is no one preferred leadership style or specific successful formula for leadership.

Leadership styles

1. Visionary (motivated by the end result; focus on the big picture and long-term, ie macro; need to have the tenacity to push through when times are tough; consistency; essential for growth; need to know to handle the micro issues (like details, etc) and short-term challenges like setbacks, unforeseen circumstances and adversity; most commonlt seen in start-ups, not-for-profit sector)

2. Bureaucratic ('play by the rules', ie understand fixed roles and responsibilities and don't deviate from them; follow the example of predecessors; allows little room for flexibility; not effective in the VUCA situations; most common in public sector or large corporates)

3. Directing (top-down approach, like hierarchical decision-making, ie all decisions are made at the top; no room for flexibility with well-defined roles and responsibilities that are constantly monitored; most common in public sector)

4. Paternal and Maternal (paternal refers to male figure and maternal, the female; subordinates see their leaders as 'fatherly' or 'motherly' figures in the organisation; focuses on practical and ground-based work, ie very flexible and good at handling adversity; tend to have a strong people focus like a family; most common in family organisations)

5. Situational (very opportunistic, ie able to adapt successfully to the changing situations; good at improvising; have a very strong intuition, instinct, ie

"...choosing the right style, making the right decision at the right time, and just being able to seize the moment is what makes situational leadership last long......It is a very dynamic leadership style because you might change your behaviour, address situations differently, and make decisions at the right time..."
ntaskmanager, 2021a

most commonly found in very competitive, dynamic industries like technology)

6. Participative or Facilitative (equal participation opportunities for staff; distributes power to staff by offering them a platform for voicing their opinions; examples are privatisation and decentralisation)

7. Transformational (willing to take the lead in a change project; innovative; like the challenge of something different)

8. Transactional (focus on specific tasks (including deadlines to meet, eg need to complete certain tasks before going on holidays); motivation around performance/effort-orientated including rewards, incentives, etc; tenacity to get things done; some negative aspects can include punishing people for underperforming and forcing people to do things that they are don't want to do)

9. Servant (practise power-sharing; lead by example and put their organisation and staff ahead of any personal agendas; usually humble; motivate staff to new levels of skills, responsibilities, etc; help people realise their full potential

"...in extreme cases, servant leaders are often seen as lacking authority. We think that this style of leadership is best because you are connected to your colleagues and employees. In return, your fellows reciprocate by demonstrating loyalty. However, there is a thin line when servant leaders are often undermined by employees due to conflict of interests..."
ntaskmanager, 2021a

This type of leadership becoming more effective in today's workplace as it requires leaders who

"...inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others. Serving specifically is all about putting others' needs ahead of your own. While this isn't always easy, there are times when people need tough love and other times where they need an encouraging coach..."
ntaskmanager, 2021a)

10. Autocratic (focus is on results; make decisions alone; don't trust others easily and expect others to be passionate about their work; best suited to organisations where policies, procedures, rules, regulations, etc are strict and rigidly adhered to; usually don't encourage creativity or initiative; some examples include military commanders, ie people follow orders)

11. Hands-off or Laissez-Faire (delegate tasks and expect staff to complete those tasks tof the best of their abilities; not very strict or policy-focussed; 'I will leave that to you in your capable hands', ie

"...workers define their work hours for as long as they are completing their activities and meeting the desired quota......those employees, who can work under minimum supervision..."
ntaskmanager, 2021a

Encourages flexibility and innovation.)

12. Democratic (this is a mixture of autocratic and hands-off leadership; encourage discussion, participation, creativity, initiative taking, outperforming, etc)

13. Coaching (focuses in-depth on identifying and nurturing the strengths of every staff member rather than giving orders; motivates people to get the most out of them; encourages individuals to work with their strengths and explore their personal and professional growth, ie

"...help employees improve their individual strengths by giving them new tasks, offering them guidance, or meeting them to discuss issues and offer valuable constructive criticism..."
ntaskmanager, 2021a)

14. Strategic (develops a vision for the organisation with strategies and action plans for the implementation

"...the ability to influence others to voluntarily make decisions that enhance the prospects for the organisation's long-term success......to create a team that is full of skill diversity, exceptionally trained and well-equipped individuals..."
ntaskmanager, 2021a)

15. Charismatic (inspire, energise and motivate people to work with them; depends solely on the leader to inspire people)

16. Pacesetter (work speed-orientated, ie want results fast; most common in sales-related organisations)

17. Narcissistic (only interested in him or herself, ie top priority is themselves and their own interests, benefits, etc at the expense of others; personal egotistical need for power and self-admiration) (for more details see elsewhere in the Knowledge Base)

18. Collegiate style (people work together as equals, ie share power; encourage diversity of points of view; it can be summarised as

"...hire the very best people and get obstacles out of their way and support them..."
Anthony Heraghty as quoted by Sue Mitchell, 2021

A disadvantage is that it can take time to make decisions.)

NB the above is not a complete list of leadership types.

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