12 Different Types of Leadership Styles

Leaders exist all over the world in different kinds and types. Some leaders work well in large groups, some require smaller ones. Some can work comfortably with just one partner while some need at least 4-5 people. Situations also help define a person’s leadership style. Sometimes a leader lacks the ability to assume responsibility, while some cannot work with a lot of people involved in their decision-making processes.


Over the years, analysts and leadership experts have assembled 12 different types of leadership styles with careful research and experience.

Through this article you may also find out the kind of leader you are! Read on to know more.

1. Autocratic Leadership 

As the name suggests, autocratic leadership involves a working environment which is centered around the boss or the head of the organization. This type of leadership does not require the approval of the employees on the decisions made, since the leader simply communicates the plans-of-action and implementation to the subordinates, expecting immediate and thorough execution. Since the leader is in charge of all the changes in protocol, he/she is also automatically expected to set the procedural guidelines and company policies all by themselves. This kind of leadership has little to no flexibility since there is very minimal give-and-take between the employer and the employee. Naturally, this leadership type has not always been favorable and successful over the years; some companies involving the use of autocratic leadership are the Trump Organization (run by Donald Trump) and the Sunbeam Corporation run by Albert J. Dunlap.

2. Democratic Leadership 

In a democratic leadership, the head involves their employees in the decision-making processes. They are also open to suggestions, feedback and/or changes that the employees feel could be implemented in the concept. Although the ultimate and final power to go ahead with the decision made and to approve or disapprove it is in the hands of the leader, authority is often delegated to subordinates, who are then given a specific area of work to take care of. This way, the amount of work required is divided equally among the subordinates, therefore giving equal opportunity to all. This kind of leadership has a two-way communication flow, and is (understandably) one of the most popular and favored types of leadership.

3. Strategic Leadership 

Although there is an ultimate leader in this kind of leadership style, he/she is not the only one with all the authority. In this kind of leadership style, authority is distributed among other heads in the organization so as to provide a high-performance and effective outcome along with productivity. A strategic leadership style works best when the company or the environment the company is a part of is undergoing some kind of change. That is when the company leaders need to brainstorm and plan the next step and the future goals and aims of the organization with respect to the evolving atmosphere. They fill the space between the possible outcomes as foreseen by the organization and the practical approaches required to fulfill them.

4. Transformational Leadership

This type of leadership is unique because it works on empowering its employees. Transformational leadership, as opposed to strategic leadership, works on bringing about inner change–be it in the organization, the employees or the leader themselves. This type of leadership involves encouraging their employees to do more than they originally planned to do, and/or more than what they thought they could do. A lot of times, due low self-confidence and self-esteem issues, employees are not as productive or motivated to reach the company’s as well as their own personal goals. Transformational leadership aims to empower the employee as an individual to perform their level best and continue to achieve higher levels of motivation and effectiveness, thus making it a leadership style that has more committed and satisfied employees.

5. Team Leadership 

A team leadership involves a set goal and/or aim that the entire company has to strive toward. It is a vision put forth by the leader to the employees and the mission is to achieve it as a team. Since it involves team-building and group-work, the leader is not always seen as the authoritative personality that the employees have to report to, but rather that the leader works with their teams as one, promoting an equal work environment. However, since there is no specified authority figure to follow, this kind of style often fails due to poor leadership and guidance. It also recognizes the fact that co-operative and trusting relationships are hard to find and harder to form.

6. Cross-cultural Leadership 

As the name suggests, this type of leadership involves multiple cultures that come together to work in the same environment. Since this type of leadership involves the amalgamation of different personalities and backgrounds, the leader is required to have the skill of adapting to changing and cross-cultural environments. This kind of atmosphere also involves the understanding of the frontrunners in a homogenized global market. The most noted use of this tye of leadership is seen in the United States since so many cultures come to live and work there.

7. Facilitative Leadership

A facilitative leadership focuses on the blueprint stage or the processing and planning of the organization rather than a holistic view of its company. The leader will bring out changes in their planning and directives if they feel that their subordinates are low-functioning, whereas they will simply supervise and advise if they gauge their subordinates to be high-functioning with a high and effective output rate. A good facilitative leader should have the technical know-how of keeping their group on track, focused and with a good understanding the group dynamics and relationships.

8. Laissez-faire Leadership

Known as the least effective type of leadership, laissez-faire (meaning ‘let them do’ in French) involves giving complete authority to the employees and subordinates, with almost zero interference by the head. Employees work as much and when they wish to, which obviously leads to serious problems with the working of the company. Therefore this type of leadership is not really favorable since the productivity levels flucutuate and the leader does not really do their job–to lead.

9. Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership is a pretty basic, foundational form of leadership. It involves giving tangible rewards and incentives to the employees in order to fulfill the company’s goals. Purely exchange-based, this type of leadership chooses to stick the status quo of the organization. A typical transactional relationship involves specifying what is expected of the employees, clarifying how to meet these expectations, and doling out rewards and incentives that are contingent to the meeting of these expectations.

10. Coaching Leadership  

A coaching leadership aims to motivate, inspire and encourage its employees to improve their skills in order to produce the desirable result. Purely skill-based and operational, the coaching leader involves themselves in the workings of the employees and improving upon their weakness, therefore strengthening their likelihood of producing a successful outcome. Coaching leaders often sit down personally with their employees and help them map where they have gone wrong and can do better. This type of leadership naturally leads to effective and high-functioning outcomes since the employee does not feel less than his or her colleagues because of his or her weaknesses.

11. Charismatic Leadership 

A charismatic leader aims to inspire his or her employees through their philosophies, ideas and their personality. It is the creation of an ideology suited to motivate the employees in a way in which they aim to work and reach the level at which their leader has. This also involves a behavioral change as opposed to simply being a passing inspiration. A lot of times, listening and understanding the ideologies of these personalities serve as a boost to the employees’ morale, leading them to truly believing in their ability to work in a better and effective manner, therefore helping them to achieve not just the company’s goals but also any personal goals that they may have set for themselves. Employees also feel inspired to reach where these leaders have reached one day.  A lot of popular and famous leaders have often led by this example.

12. Visionary Leadership 

Similar to a team leadership, a visionary leadership involves a leader who has a set, specified and clear vision that is to be achieved. They understand that the only way to achieve this vision is by creating and sustaining relationships ad connections with their employees and other external contributors. These types of leaders work with their subordinates by instructing them what to do and how in order to reach their goal. However, along with their team, they also work on an inter-personal level with higher-ups and colleagues in order to develop and maintain resources that may help in achieving their goal.