Discovering Your Leading Style: A Guide to 8 Types of Leadership

Discovering Your Leading Style: A Guide to 8 Types of Leadership | Leadership | Emeritus

In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, leaders must don multiple hats, extending their influence beyond their position of authority. They serve as the backbone of organizations and can shape their teams’ success. But what does it take to be an exceptional leader? While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, exploring the different types of leadership can unlock various possibilities to elevate their impact. This article will explore eight main types of leadership and their pros and cons. Moreover, we will help determine which style suits which strengths best. So read along to unlock that potential as a leader.

What are the Different Leadership Styles and How Do They Differ?

Leadership is the ability of individuals to inspire, influence, and guide others toward a common goal or vision that benefits the organization as a whole. It encompasses several essential functions, such as providing direction, delegating tasks, making decisions, setting goals, and fostering a positive work environment. 

 Types of leadership

Types of Leadership 

Some of the common types of leadership include: 

  1. Visionary Leadership 
  2. Transactional Leadership 
  3. Charismatic Leadership 
  4. Transformational Leadership 
  5. Autocratic Leadership
  6. Bureaucratic Leadership
  7. Democratic Leadership
  8. Laissez-Faire Leadership

These types of leadership differ in approach, style, and behaviors leaders exhibit. Additionally, these styles vary regarding decision-making authority, team involvement, motivation techniques, and overall leadership approach. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses, depending on the situation. Besides, the choice of leadership style can also depend on the situation, organizational culture, and the team or organization’s needs. Let’s delve deeper into these types of leadership and comprehensively understand their pros and cons.

 Types of leadershipWhat are the Pros and Cons of Different Leadership Styles?

1.  Visionary Leadership

Visionary leaders inspire others to work toward a vision for the future.


  • Visionary leaders inspire and motivate others with their vision for the future
  • They encourage creative thinking and innovation by challenging the status quo and promoting new ideas 


  • They can face difficulty communicating their grand vision, which can result in misunderstandings or confusion among team members
  • Visionary leaders may also establish ambitious goals that can be challenging to achieve, potentially creating pressure and fostering unrealistic expectations  

2. Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders use social exchanges to influence others to achieve their goals.


  • These leaders establish clear expectations, goals, and performance standards, ensuring that others understand what is expected of them, thus promoting accountability
  • They use rewards and recognition to motivate and incentivize their team members, fostering productivity and performance


  • This type of leadership primarily focuses on maintaining existing processes and achieving established goals. Needless to say, this can potentially stifle innovation and creativity within the team
  • The transactional approach of this leadership style can also lead to a lack of personal and professional growth opportunities for team members

3. Charismatic Leadership 

Charismatic leaders inspire and motivate others to behave in a specific way by being enthusiastic, energetic, and charismatic.


  • These leaders can inspire and motivate others through their enthusiasm, energy, and charisma
  • They also create an optimistic work atmosphere, fostering high morale and engagement


  • Their persuasive abilities can be utilized for self-serving purposes without considering the best interests of the organization or team
  • The focus on inspiring and motivating may overshadow the practical aspects of execution and implementation

ALSO READ: What is Charismatic Leadership? Learn How it Influences People 

4. Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders transform others, nurturing them to achieve greater success and growth.


  • Transformational leaders encourage creativity, challenge the status quo, and foster a culture of continuous improvement and growth
  • Additionally, they create a supportive and empowering work environment that fosters a sense of satisfaction, morale, and motivation among employees 


  • Transformational leaders’ high expectations and drive for excellence can sometimes lead to increased pressure and workload for employees.
  • In addition to this, transformational leaders, driven by the pursuit of organizational goals, may overlook the developmental needs of individual team members

ALSO READ: What is Transformational Leadership and Why is it Important? 

5. Autocratic Leadership 

Autocratic leaders make decisions and give orders without seeking input from others.


  • Autocratic leadership enables swift and decisive action in crises
  • Moreover, this leadership style provides clear direction and instructions, minimizing ambiguity


  • Limited involvement in decision-making in an autocratic leadership style may leave team members feeling disengaged or undervalued 
  • Furthermore, the lack of input from others can also impede the generation of fresh ideas and diverse perspectives

ALSO READ: What is Autocratic Leadership & How Does it Work in a Business Environment?  

6. Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leaders rely on established rules and procedures to guide their leadership approach.


  • Bureaucratic leadership focuses on minimizing risks by following established protocols and guidelines 
  • They establish clear structures, rules, and processes that promote efficiency, consistency, and order within the organization


  • These leaders tend to prioritize adherence to established rules and procedures over adaptability, thus making them inflexible and rigid in their approach
  • Furthermore, they often tightly control tasks and responsibilities, limiting individual autonomy and decision-making authority  

ALSO READ: Learn How Bureaucratic Leadership Works and When to Use it   

 7. Democratic Leadership 

Democratic leaders involve others in the decision-making process and encourage collaboration.


  • They include team members in decision-making and foster a sense of ownership and commitment in the team
  • Moreover, this leadership approach helps employees feel valued and have a voice. In essence, this leads to increased job satisfaction and motivation 


  • A democratic style of leadership can be slower due to discussions and consensus-building
  • Democratic leadership can lead to disagreements, and conflicts among team members may also arise, thus requiring effective conflict resolution 

ALSO READ: What is Democratic Leadership? How Does it Drive Success in an Organization? 

8. Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leaders provide freedom and autonomy to individuals, allowing them to make their own decisions.


  • Laissez-faire leaders empower individuals with autonomy, promoting creativity and initiative
  • Additionally, in this type of leadership, employees are encouraged to take ownership of their work, resulting in increased self-motivation 


  • This type of leadership can lack structure and guidance, leaving employees feeling lost or uncertain 
  • The freedom and autonomy granted in laissez-faire leadership can also lead to a lack of accountability and a decrease in overall productivity

ALSO READ: What is Laissez-Faire Leadership? How it Can Drive Business Growth 

How Can a Leader Determine the Best Leadership Style to Use Within Their Organization? 

Step 1: Develop a Deep Understanding of Yourself 

Professionals in leadership roles should take the time to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and leadership preferences. Reflect on personality traits, communication style, and decision-making approach. Moreover, self-awareness is crucial in determining which leadership style aligns best with one’s natural tendencies. 

Step 2: Define One’s Core Values 

Consider how different leadership styles may align with one’s values and help address challenges. 

Step 3: Try Different Leadership Styles 

Try out various leadership styles in different situations or projects. Equally important, be open to adapting the approach based on the needs of the team and the specific circumstances.  Types of leadership

Step 4: Ask for Feedback 

Seek feedback from team members and colleagues regarding the leadership style. Create a culture of open communication where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and observations. Furthermore, this feedback will provide valuable insights into how the leadership style is perceived and impacts others.   

Step 5: Learn From Other Leaders 

One must look to leaders whom they admire and respect. Examine their leadership styles and the impact they have had on their organizations. Additionally, identify the aspects of their leadership that resonate with you and could be applied to one’s own leadership approach.

Step 6: Find a Mentor 

Lastly, find a mentor who has experience in leadership and can provide guidance and insights. Moreover, a mentor can also help one explore different types of leadership, offer advice, and share their experiences to help navigate leadership challenges. 

How Can Leaders Transition from One Leadership Style to Another When Managing Different Types of Employees?

Transitioning between leadership styles when managing diverse employees requires leaders to assess individual needs, provide training and support, remain flexible and open-minded, and communicate and seek feedback to learn from their experiences. Furthermore, by employing these strategies, leaders can also effectively navigate the complexities of diverse teams, foster an inclusive work environment, and maximize the potential of each employee. Additionally, embracing a versatile leadership approach enhances team performance and promotes employee growth, engagement, and satisfaction.

ALSO READ: Top 12 Leadership Courses to Advance Your Career in 2023 and Beyond 

In conclusion, understanding and embracing different leadership styles can significantly impact personal and organizational growth. Moreover, by recognizing each style’s unique strengths and weaknesses, leaders can adapt their approach to suit the specific needs of their team and organization. Additionally, investing in continuous learning and development is vital for honing leadership skills and staying ahead in today’s dynamic business landscape. Therefore, seize the opportunity to grow as a leader and positively impact your organization by exploring these online leadership courses from Emeritus.  

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 Types of leadership

About the Author

Content Marketing Manager, Emeritus Blog
Manasa is the content ninja that every brand needs. Apart from being an expert in tech-related trends and digital marketing, she has found her calling in edtech. Her 10-year-long tryst with education started with a teaching fellowship for underprivileged children, followed by a stint as an edupreneur. It gave her the perspective she now uses to create impactful content for Emeritus. Manasa loves the life of a digital nomad that allows her to travel and hopes her reels go viral on the Gram.
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