What Are the Different Types of Organizational Leadership?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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There are a number of different types of organizational leadership that can be applied in the workplace. Together, they are often referred to as the various "leadership models" or "leadership styles." Two of the most common examples of organizational leadership are situational leadership, in which the manager or leader adjusts his or her style based on the situation, and transactional leadership, which is a rewards and punishment based system. In exchange for doing good work, for example, a person might then be eligible for a bonus or promotion. Transformational leadership and participative leadership are two other common leadership models.

Situational leadership is perhaps the most versatile type of organizational leadership. In this model, the leader, often a supervisor or manager in the workplace, adjusts his or her style based on the needs of the employee, the problem that he or she is facing, and lessons learned from past experiences. For instance, some employees might require specific direction and a great deal of supervision, while more experienced employees might simply need general guidance and motivation. Rather than treating everyone the same, a situational leader tailors her response on a case by case basis.


Transactional leadership is common in larger workplaces in which managers are not able to get to know their employees. This style of organizational leadership rewards those who follow the rules and complete their work as expected with a steady paycheck, a bonus, or promotion. Those who do not perform as expected may find that they lose their jobs or experience other "punishments," such as not being eligible for a raise, or having a promotion delayed. While generally effective at increasing worker productivity, this style of organizational leadership typically does not encourage any sort of personal devotion to the company, and turnover rate is often fairly high.

Transformational and participative leadership take a different approach, but are similar in principle. Transformational leaders seek to inspire and motivate those around them, and often reward creativity and risk-taking for the good of the business. This organizational leadership style does tend to inspire feelings of concern and devotion to the business and to coworkers. Similarly, participative leadership welcomes input from other employees, and takes this input into account when making decisions that will affect everyone. Both of these styles attempt to make employees feel as if they are part of the larger success of the company, rather than simply a cog in a machine.


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