What are the Different Leadership Types?

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  • Written By: Kerrie Main
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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When developing a manager, it is important to know and understand the different types of leadership styles. Leaders can come in many forms, and the perfect style depends on the industry, the team being managed and the corporate strategy. Each leadership style has different strengths and methods, and some styles need specific environments to be effective. Leadership types include autocratic, bureaucratic, democratic, Laissez-faire and transformational. Once a person’s leadership style is determined through a leadership test, training and coaching can begin.

The autocratic leader typically operates in a dictatorship style and has absolute power. These leadership types usually do not take suggestions from others, tend to rely on the force of personality and dominate their subordinates. Many employees resent this leadership style, which can lead to turnover and dissatisfaction. This style might be advantageous during crisis management and for micromanagement of passive, routine positions.

Bureaucratic leaders are commonly known as the "rule followers" of the different types of leaders. This kind of leader does everything according to the rules and regulations and makes sure the staff members follow suit. Typically successful when working with machinery, in construction or in finance, these leaders must have a levelheaded personality. Environments that require creativity and flexibility might not work well with this style.


When a leader is democratic, or participative, he or she usually invites the contributions of subordinates but makes the final decisions. This is one of the most effective leadership types when the organization depends on collaboration and teamwork. The democratic style typically is a balance between micromanagement and non-engaged management. The democratic manager emphasizes team building and usually acts more like a coach than a boss. Many employees are motivated, feel valued and are able to develop new skills under this kind of leader.

The Laissez-faire leader is usually very "hands off" with his employees. When managing self-disciplined or tenured employees, this can be one of the ideal leadership types. It might not work if the employees are junior, need constant feedback or are not highly motivated, however. This leadership style typically is more effective when combined with regularly scheduled meetings on a weekly or monthly basis to ensure clear communication with employees. This type of leader might be at risk of losing control of staff members if situations are not addressed properly and in a timely manner.

When an organization is starting or going through a major transition, the transformational style usually is one of the best leadership types to have at the forefront. The transformational leader typically is charismatic and naturally inspires others. These leaders are rare and have the capacity and vision to make big changes. They show new ways to solve problems and engage their followers intellectually and emotionally.


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