Leadership is a complex and multifaceted concept, encompassing various approaches and styles. While some leaders may inspire through their charisma and vision, others excel in their analytical prowess or ability to build strong relationships.

“Understanding your leadership style can make you more effective because it helps you pinpoint behaviours that either help or prevent you from achieving your goals. Just as importantly, you can use this knowledge to improve your management style and keep your team members on track,” says Danielle Smyth.

Although it may not seem like it, there are several styles of leaders. According to CRM software company HubSpot, there are 11 types. Identifying which you are to maximize these leadership skills and mitigate the limitations will be essential for leading motivated teams and accomplishing the organization’s goals.

11 Types of Leadership Styles: Traits and Red Flags

1. Democratic Leaders

Democratic leaders prioritize collaboration and seek input from team members before making decisions. They value diverse perspectives and create an inclusive environment where everyone's voice is heard. By involving the team in decision-making, they promote a sense of ownership and foster a culture of trust and engagement.

“Reaching a consensus can take considerable time, resources, and communication with a democratic style. It can also impact decision-making because some team members may not have the expertise to make critical decisions,” warns Braden Becker.

2. Autocratic Leaders

Autocratic leaders exert complete control over decision-making, often relying on their authority and expertise. They make decisions independently, without seeking input from others. While this style can be efficient in certain situations, it may stifle creativity and limit team members' autonomy. Autocratic leadership is most effective in high-pressure scenarios that require quick and decisive actions.

“Most organizations can’t sustain such a hegemonic culture without losing employees, which can significantly lower morale and creative problem-solving,” explains Braden Becker, highlighting that other challenges these leaders face are intimidation and micro-management.

3. Laissez-Faire Leaders

Laissez-faire leaders adopt a hands-off approach, giving their team members autonomy and decision-making freedom. They trust their team's expertise and provide minimal guidance or supervision. This leadership style can be effective when leading highly skilled and self-motivated teams but may lack direction when guidance is crucial.

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4. Strategic Leaders

“Strategic leaders refer to leaders responsible for company strategy changes. They empower company resources to achieve company goals. These leaders identify the right resources and capabilities to compete, and when companies don’t have them, they try to build them.” according to Ahmad Nasrudin.

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5. Transformational Leaders

Transformational leaders are visionaries who inspire and motivate their teams by setting high standards and challenging the status quo. They exhibit a genuine passion for their mission and inspire others through enthusiasm and optimism. These leaders foster innovation, encourage personal growth, and empower their team members to reach their full potential.

"When starting a job with this type of leader, all employees might get a list of goals to reach and deadlines for reaching them. The goals might begin quite simple, but as employees grow and meet their goals, leaders will give them more tasks and challenges to conquer as they grow with the company,” explains Braden Becker, while also warning that this may lead to employee burnout sometimes.

6. Transactional Leaders

The transactional leadership style was first described by Max Weber in 1947, focusing on control through a rewards and punishments system.

“This approach to leadership emphasizes the importance of structure, organization, supervision, performance, and outcomes. The goals and tasks for the group are highly structured, and members are rewarded when they achieve these goals and reprimanded if they miss deadlines,” explains Kendra Cherry.

7. Coaching Leaders

"Coaching leaders actively support skill development and independent problem-solving. They meet ambitious business goals by creating a strong company culture and add to a business's long-term vision as valuable mentors, often even after leaving a company,” explains Braden Becker.

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8. Bureaucratic Leaders

A bureaucratic leader is a type of leader who emphasizes adherence to rules, policies, and procedures. This leadership style is commonly associated with hierarchical and structured organizations, where the leader primarily focuses on maintaining order, efficiency, and compliance with established protocols.

These leaders may struggle to adapt to rapidly changing environments or unforeseen circumstances. The rigid adherence to rules and procedures can hinder creativity and innovation.

9. Visionary Leaders

Visionary leaders possess a clear and compelling vision for the future. They inspire and motivate their teams by sharing their vision, setting ambitious goals, and providing a roadmap for achieving success. These leaders can articulate their ideas, engage others, and bring their vision to life through effective communication and strategic planning.

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10. Pacesetting Leaders

“A pacesetting leader sets ambitious standards and expects employees to meet those goals in the exact manner they’ve laid out. These leaders expect productivity and high-quality outputs from employees, and they may step in to ensure things are done correctly and on time,” according to Braden Becker.

Team members may feel constrained and lack autonomy in decision-making processes, leading to reduced motivation and engagement, as well as suffering from high stress and anxiety if the goals are not realistic.

11. Situational Leaders

Situational leaders are flexible and adaptable leaders who adjust their leadership style based on the situation. They recognize that different circumstances call for different approaches and are skilled at assessing the needs of their team and the requirements of a given situation to determine the most effective way to lead.

They might be rare as they need a deep understanding of the context in which they operate. They have to consider factors such as the team's capabilities, the nature of the task or project, the level of complexity involved, and the external environment to assess the most appropriate leadership approach.

By understanding and embracing the diverse types of leaders, managers can foster more inclusive and productive work environments that bring out the best in individuals and teams.

According to your team and business goals, what type of leadership best suits your department? Let us know what skills you would add to the list to succeed as a leader.

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