What are the Different Types of Leadership Styles

Explore ten types of Leadership styles such as democratic, autocratic, etc, including examples, advantages, and disadvantages of each one:

Usually, we just categorize leaders into two groups- good and bad.

A good leader is one who makes us feel supported and inspires us. And a bad leader is the one who makes you wonder if you are even qualified for making coffee runs. But the thing is, leadership isn’t always so elementary. There are many types of leadership styles that aren’t essentially good or bad.

In this article, we are going to tell you what are the different types of leadership styles along with their advantages and disadvantages.

Different Types of Leadership Styles

Types of Leadership

You will have to use different methods and processes to meet the objectives of your employer and that of those who report to you. This is how you will develop your leadership skills along the way and you might have to use different styles of leadership at one time to lead your team and deliver the results effectively.

Understanding different types of leadership styles will help you recognize certain areas of improvement in your style and expand your skills. It will also help you identify other leadership styles that might help you achieve your current goals and understand how to work with managers who follow a different leadership style compared to your own.

Major Types of Leadership Styles

There are 4 types of leadership styles that are recognized, mostly. Three of them are supervisory techniques that correspond to the three of these styles and you can add a fourth one to the list because it is one of the most popular styles.

#1) Democratic

Commonly Effective


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Also known as participative leadership, it involves letting multiple people, usually your team, participate in deciding. However, the leader takes the input of the team but the final say stays with them.

For example, the leader can give the team a few options related to the decision they have to make. The team will then discuss the options and offer a few ideas on how to proceed and what can be done. The leader then might make a decision considering all the ideas and suggestions or can put it up to vote.


  • Invigorates collaboration.
  • Includes various ways of thinking, ideas, and opinions.
  • Increases productivity and boosts group engagement.
  • This leads to more creative solutions.
  • The majority supports the outcome so little discontent among the team.


  • The minority gets ignored.
  • This can lead to confusion and communication gaps due to the involvement of many people.
  • Decision makings take longer.

Example: A company is looking for ways to boost the sales of its product. The sales manager calls for a team meeting and asks everyone to put some ideas on the table to boost sales.

Everyone makes some suggestions, and the manager likes a few. Then he asks the team to vote for one or two most efficient ideas after the discussions and goes with the majority. One real-life example of an outstanding democratic leader is Franklin D. Roosevelt.

#2) Autocratic

Rarely Effective

Autocratic leadership

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The autocratic leadership style is the opposite of the Democratic style. It has a top-down approach where the leader doesn’t take any input from anyone for making the decisions. The team reporting to the leader is neither consulted nor considered before making the decisions. And they are supposed to adhere to those decisions.


  • Decision-making is quick and efficient.
  • Teams remain consistent and cohesive.
  • Everyone’s role is specified and no one steps outside of the boundaries of their role.


  • Stifles innovation, creativity, and collaboration.
  • No diversity in thoughts and ideas.
  • The team might feel left out and disengaged.
  • No place for professional growth or mentorship.

Example: One of the most common examples of an autocratic leader is a surgeon. When surgeons go into surgery with a team, they specifically instruct the team to follow rules to the point. Everything has to go their way for a perfect, flawless surgery. Adolf Hitler was one of the most feared autocratic leaders.

#3) Laissez-Faire

Sometimes Effective

Laissez-Faire Leadership

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Also known as the Delegative style, the French word “Laissez-Faire” means `let them do it. This leadership style is one step ahead of Democratic leadership. Here, the leader provides their team with all the necessary tools and resources and gives them the freedom to make decisions.

The leaders remain largely uninvolved in everyday work. You will usually find this style in creative workplaces like startups, advertising, etc. because they encourage independent thinking.


  • It empowers every individual and helps them practice their skills in leadership.
  • Boosts creativity and innovation.
  • Reduced fear of failure.
  • Makes team members trust each other and the leader.
  • Instills a feeling of independence.


  • Sometimes leads to reduced productivity.
  • Often leads to conflicts between team members.
  • Might lead to confusion about roles and responsibilities.
  • Doesn’t work with an unmotivated or unskilled team.

Example: There are leaders like Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs who are known for this type of leadership. They just let the team know what they want and then let the team decide the best way to achieve that goal. They never issued any instructions to their team or told them how to do their job.

#4) Coaching

Commonly Effective

Coaching Leadership

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Just like a coach of a sports team, a coaching style leader focuses on finding out the individual strengths of each member of the team and nurturing them. They create strategies to help their team to work well together. This leadership style is very similar to democratic leadership, but with more emphasis on the success and growth of individual members.


  • Promotes two-way collaboration and communication.
  • Ample constructive feedback.
  • Expedites an individual’s professional and personal development.
  • Supportive instead of judgemental.


  • Requires a lot of energy and time.
  • Doesn’t always deliver efficient and fast results.
  • Doesn’t work well with companies with high-pressure work environments and the ones that are strictly driven by results.

Example: The best example is a coach of any sports team, say, cricket or soccer. They identify the strengths and weaknesses of the entire team and create strategies to make the best of it. They work hard to make every player better.

It can also be a sales manager who appreciates the individual delivering better results and training the weaker ones to do better. The author of the self-help book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ Dale Carnegie is one of the classic examples of coaching style leadership.

Other Types of Leadership Styles

Apart from the above-mentioned 4 types of leadership, there are a few more that you should be aware of.

#5) Transactional

Sometimes Effective


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This is one of the most common leadership styles known today. Control, short-term planning, and organization define transactional leadership. The system relies on motivating the employees with rewards and punishment.

As the name suggests, this style includes a clear exchange between the leader and the team that motivates them. For example, the marketing team receives a bonus for generating the targeted number of leads by the end of the quarter.


  • Efficient for reaching long-term aims.
  • Defines the behavior expected from the individuals of a team clearly.
  • Offers stability and provides structure to the organization and team.


  • Limits growth and creativity.
  • Doesn’t work on people who are not influenced by material and extrinsic motivations.
  • Is not helpful for those looking for personal and professional development.

Example: Most companies use this type of leadership. The employees are given monetary benefits like bonuses or commissions, or even gifts according to their performance. Thus, the employees seek to do better for more benefits and rewards.

#6) Transformational

Sometimes Effective


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These types of leaders identify the needs of the organization and create a vision based on them. They motivate and inspire their teams to achieve that unified goal. What makes this leadership style different from all others is its focus on changing the processes and systems that aren’t working.


  • Extremely motivating.
  • Encourages collaboration.
  • Builds strong relations between team, leader, and organization.
  • This leads to empathy, growth, and creativity.


  • A lot of pressure on the leader.
  • Can cause the feeling of instability.
  • Might not be the best fit for every organization.

Example: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is one of the best examples of a transformational leadership style. He had a daring vision of what he wanted from his company and worked in the direction of achieving that goal. He still looks for innovative ways to grow and do even better.

#7) Charismatic

Commonly Effective

Charismatic Leadership Style

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Charismatic leader influences others by using their charm, skills of communication, and persuasiveness. They can connect to the people on a deep level and that makes them extremely valuable to the organizations in crisis or struggling to develop. They can inspire their team deeply and help them perform their best.


  • Very motivational and inspiring.
  • Invigorates a sense of union, togetherness, and collaboration.
  • Makes their team feel understood and heard.
  • Brings positive change.


  • Often viewed as shallow or deceitful.
  • Can become self-serving.
  • Might present themselves as irreplaceable.

Example: The best example of a charismatic leader is Martin Luther King, Jr. He influenced people with his exceptional personal qualities and empowered them with his empathy. Clear communication and speaking with conviction and belief were his key to leading the followers.

#8) Collaborative

Commonly Effective

Collaborative Leadership Style

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This leadership style aims at helping and encouraging people to work together across all levels and functions. They encourage all teams to work together across all departments to help accomplish the organizational goal. It will not be wrong to say this type of leader not only leads their team but others as well, even if indirectly.


  • Leads to innovative thinking and creativity.
  • Offers more chances of diversity.
  • Strengthens relationships across teams and departments.
  • Builds trust.


  • This might lead to vagueness in the responsibilities and roles of teams and individuals.
  • This can result in conflicts across teams.
  • Might lead to a struggle for power between the leaders.

Example: Let’s say, someone in an advertising team is struggling to find a creative idea for a particular product. The team leader, being a collaborative leader, will organize a team meeting to boost the creativity of the team and come up with a range of ideas that can work.

Even though the leader might have an idea or an approach for that certain advertisement, he/she will not push their recommendation. Instead, they will open the floor for team members to exchange and build on each other’s ideas and suggestions. Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous collaborative leaders.

#9) Servant

Sometimes Effective

Servant Leadership Style

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A servant-style leader prioritizes the needs and well-being of their team. They first serve their team before everything and push them towards the growth of their organization, employees, and community.

This style works wonders for the morale and experience of employees, but you need to balance it, or instead of you, your team will end up running the show and it will result in reduced authority, no direction, and no vision.


  • Aims at the growth and development of others.
  • Results in collaboration, innovation, and better performance.
  • Creates a safer work environment.
  • Decreases disengagement and employee turnover.
  • Employees trust the leaders.


  • Resource-intensive style.
  • Hard to train leaders for this style.
  • Results can take a long time to reach goals or see results.
  • Leaders can be perceived as weak.

Example: Mother Teresa is a classic example of servant-style leadership. She leads people by listening to their need and understanding it. Her empathy connected her to others’ pain and grief. She helped them, served them, and encouraged them.

Everything she did was for the development and betterment of the surrounding people. That’s why she still is one of the best servant leaders that ever existed in the history of mankind.

#10) Bureaucratic

Rarely Effective

Bureaucratic Leadership Style

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The bureaucratic leadership style depends on strict regulations, a clear chain of command, and confirmation from the team. This style of leadership is often found in government, public, and military organizations, along with bigger, older, or traditional companies.


  • Offers stable outcomes and job security.
  • No favoritism.
  • Well-defined expectations, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Regulations and processes are extremely clear.


  • The chain of command takes time.
  • Extremely less free thinking, innovation, and creativity.
  • Minimal or negligible professional and personal growth.
  • Doesn’t help team building and relationships within.
  • Can make responding to change hard.

Example: Steve Easterbrook, the CEO of McDonald’s, is one of the best examples of this leadership style. McDonald’s became an industry leader through its franchise program that is run with precise calculability, efficiency, and overall control.

Easterbrook created a specific consolidated culture that pervades down to every franchise. This helps maintain the quality of food and service across all stores.

What is Your Leadership Style

If you are not sure what kind of leader you are or can be, here are a few things that can help you understand your leadership style.

#1) Your Personality Traits

Find out the most dominant trait of your personality and see how these traits emerge in various environments and with other people. Think about how your friends and family refer to you. Are you the one they turn to for listening and helping?

If yes, you might be a servant-style leader. Do you prefer to keep absolute control? That’s the autocratic leader in you. Or, you delegate the work and it doesn’t matter how they get the job done as long as it’s done? That’s a Laissez-Faire leadership style.

#2) What You Enjoy the Most

There are certain perks to being a leader, but to find your style, you will have to identify what is it you enjoy the most about being a leader.

Do you like seeing your team working in a predictable rhythm like a well-oiled machine, or do you love the fact that you can bring your wild ideas to life and try new things? Or do you love everyone who has to do what you say? This evaluation will help you understand how you like to lead.

#3) Decision Making

How you make your decisions with the team will help you understand what is your style. Do you open a discussion with your team, listen to their inputs and then put it to voting?

If yes, you are a democratic leader. If you don’t involve anyone in the decision-making process, you are an autocratic leader. And if you are the kind who micromanages everything their team members do, you are a bureaucratic leader.

#4) Dealing With Failure

How is it you deal with the poor performance of your team? Do you like to challenge them to perform better? Or, you just fire the poor performers? You are a Laissez-Faire leader if you have a hands-off approach and let them deal with their performance by themselves.

You have a servant-style leadership quality if you talk to them, ask them what they need, and provide them with whatever they require.

These are the four major points that will help you understand what kind of leader are you. If you are still not sure, there are various quizzes available online that you can take to find out your leadership style.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) What are the 4 types of leadership?

Answer: Democratic, Autocratic, Laissez-Faire, and Coaching styles are the top 4 types of leadership among many others.

Q #2) What is democratic leadership?

Answer: This is the type of leadership that allows the team to take part in decision-making. The team is encouraged to offer input but the final say lies with the leader.

Q #3) What is a predominant leadership style?

Answer: There are three leaderships that are identified as predominant- authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire.

Q #4) Which leadership style is the best?

Answer: One of the most effective leadership styles is Democratic leadership. It allows the team to take part in the decision-making process, thus helping them get ready for future authority that they might get. It aids in their professional and individual growth.

Q #5) What makes a strong leader?

Answer: A strong leader is one who has integrity, humility, empathy, accountability, resilience, positivity, vision, influence, etc. A good leader brings the team together to work towards a common goal and inspires them to do better.


Today’s business environment is constantly changing due to the demographics and has turned increasingly challenging. The workforce has become diverse, and that’s why the same leadership style will not be beneficial in every scenario.

Those who can adapt to different styles will be successful. Hope the different styles of leadership mentioned above, their pros, cons, and examples, have given you a better insight.