6 Different Types of Leadership Styles You Should Be Using

Leaders are like the sun: essential for business life and growth. They increase company and employee growth, manage shareholder satisfaction, and motivate teams. But each leader does that differently, which means the impact they have on those working under them is mutable.

Some leaders work in a more personable manner, while others prefer to work through managers and other senior team members. So, every leader is unique, with a different leadership style they use to motivate, inspire, and meet goals. 

But what kind of leadership styles do leaders use? Is there a set number of leadership styles? Can leaders change their leadership styles? Great questions. Let’s find out. 

What Is a Leadership Style? 

A leadership style is a leader’s approach to implementing plans, motivating people, and providing direction. It’s how they communicate ideas effectively to others and encourage employees to take responsibility and grow.

Usually, leaders use leadership styles rooted in their personalities, preferences, and backgrounds. But they can and do take inspiration from other leaders and develop a unique malleable style that uses various leadership techniques, adapting to new situations as needed. 

Do You Know Your Leadership Style?

An effective leadership style helps leaders inspire others and themselves. It allows them to increase company and employee growth simultaneously. 

But if you aren’t aware of your leadership style, you: 

  • Won’t know how to affect those working under your direct influence, such as your team members 
  • Will not be able to get feedback on what’s working and what isn’t, which can help you improve your leadership abilities.  

So, knowing your leadership style can help you: 

  • Improve your leadership abilities 
  • Address any issues that may pop up without you knowing about them. 

6 Leadership Styles You Should Be Using

If you aren’t sure about your leadership style, the following list can help pinpoint exactly how you operate. 

But if you already know your leadership style, use the list below as inspiration. You could use any of the leadership styles below. 

1. Transformational Leadership 

As the name suggests, a leader with a transformational leadership style will constantly inspire employees to achieve more than they’d have thought possible. 

This leadership style works for businesses who want to transform or make significant changes by:

  • Helping leaders inspire teams to think in new ways
  • Allowing companies to innovate businesses processes to improve efficiency, productivity, and ROI
  • Increasing employee motivation, morale, and satisfaction. 

It’s also beneficial for team members because it motivates them to see and realize what they’re capable of. 

Unfortunately, the transformational leadership style also has a few drawbacks. It can:

  • Make leaders overestimate employee potential.
  • Cause leaders to lose sight of people’s learning curves.
  • Lead to employee burnout. 

2. Delegative (or Laissez-Faire) Leadership 

Delegative leadership is the least intrusive leadership form and focuses on delegating responsibilities and initiative to team members. A leader with a delegative leadership style trusts employees to do their jobs. They do not need to micromanage.

Most delegative leaders give employees the freedom to use their resources, experience, and creativity to meet their goals. For example, they may allow team members to hire independent contractors for specific jobs instead of forcing their employees to perform them.

This leadership style works for businesses because it:

  • Makes employees accountable for their work, giving them the incentive to do their best.
  • Creates a more relaxed company culture, which can be great for businesses like design or content agencies.
  • Allows highly-skilled people, who usually don’t like to be micromanaged, to work in a team. 

It’s also beneficial for team members because it makes them feel valued. As a result, they give their best to their company. 

Unfortunately, the delegative leadership style also has a few drawbacks. It can:

  • Lead to employee frustration, which can decrease work efficiency.
  • Limit team development because everyone usually goes to work by themselves.
  • Cause disagreements among team members.
  • Make it difficult for new team members to understand who’s ultimately in charge and responsible for everything. 

3. Authoritative Leadership

Authoritative leadership allows leaders to work as mentors to their employees. They chart a course and encourage those under their authority to follow. They don’t take input from anyone under their authority. 

This leadership style works for businesses because it:

  • Leads to the development of solutions instead of problems.
  • Increases employee performance and efficiency. 
  • Helps businesses reach their goals sooner. 

The authoritative leadership style is beneficial for team members because it allows them to understand what they’re expected to do and what they should do to achieve it, especially if they aren’t experienced enough.    

Unfortunately, this style also has a few drawbacks. It can:

  • Lead to micromanagement, which can create negative sentiments.  
  • Lower employee creativity and morale.
  • Cause over-reliance on a single leader. 

4. Transactional Leadership

Also known as managerial leadership, transactional leadership is based on rewards and punishments. A transactional leader sets out clear goals and tasks for their teams. If team members reach goals on time, they may be rewarded in the form of pay increases or bonuses. 

This leadership style works for businesses because it:

  • Allows leaders to increase efficiency.
  • Increases employee motivation and morale.
  • Helps businesses meet their goals in specific timeframes.

It’s also beneficial for team members because it helps them understand what’s expected of them. They also know what they’ll get in return for meeting business goals.

Unfortunately, the transactional leadership style also has a few drawbacks. It can:

  • Make it difficult to increase team engagement.
  • Cause low creativity because of the fear of punishment. 
  • Lead to diminishing returns because employees become aware of how much their effort is worth, so they never try harder. 

5. Participative Leadership

Participative leadership allows leaders to involve their employees in the decision-making process. This means the leader takes the input of each team member, giving everyone an equal say in critical decisions.

This leadership style works for businesses because it:

  • Helps leaders consider the opinions of their employees.
  • Aids leaders in learning what each team member is like creating stronger bonds between teams. 
  • Encourages accountability and collaboration. 
  • Allows leaders to provide guidance, feedback, and motivation to their teams, which can lead to a sense of accomplishment. 

The participative leadership style is beneficial for team members because it makes them feel valued. As a result, they often share their ideas on important matters, proposing solutions that wouldn’t have been suggested otherwise. 

Unfortunately, this style also has a few drawbacks. It can:

  • It Takes a long time to reach decisions.
  • Put employees into difficult positions, especially if they don’t have the right experience.

6. Situational Leadership

Situational leadership focuses on improving and changing management styles according to the needs of the team or situation. A situational leader will create solutions to problems before they ever happen and never commit to using one leadership style. 

This leadership style works for businesses because it:

  • Helps leaders motivate employees during difficult times.
  • Allows leaders to anticipate problems before they occur.
  • Creates strong relationships between leaders and employees, which can increase business loyalty. 

It’s also beneficial for team members because it helps them understand what their leader wants and find solutions to potential problems. 

Unfortunately, the situational leadership style also has a few drawbacks. It can:

  • Make the business environment unpredictable; employees never know what’s going to happen.
  • Require high levels of expertise in various business aspects, which is difficult to acquire. For example, these leaders need to be able to create real paystubs for contractors, employ risk management techniques, and identify opportunities before they happen. 

The Bottom Line

Leadership styles are the backbone of company and employee growth, managing shareholder satisfaction, and motivating teams, but many people either don’t know about them or aren’t aware of their leadership style. 

If you aren’t aware of your leadership style, take a look at the six most common listed above. If you are aware, identify the abilities you can adopt from these leadership styles to make your office environment run smoother and the business more productive.