15 Different Types of Leadership Styles

Adolf Hitler is among the top most-hated leaders of the world and yet, millions of Germans followed him for his vision of exterminating the Jewish community from the face of Germany. What helped him garner such a major following? A very powerful sense of leadership.

From countries that have risen to turn into major superpowers, to those that have stooped to their rock bottom; what sets the line of distinction is the kind of leadership that the countries are subjected to. Not just applicable to huge factions like countries, leadership can change the face of everything – from a sports team’s big win to the viability of large MNCs.

So what makes one leadership style different from another? Check out this list to find out the 15 different, and highly interesting, styles of leadership that the world has seen:


15) Autocratic leadership:

As the name suggests, this form of leadership is highly centralised, with the leader or ‘autocrat’ taking control of all decisions and strategies. In an organisation characterised by an autocratic form of leadership, the subordinates have very little to no say in the way things work out, and their major responsibility is to carry out the word of the leader, no questions asked. With the propaganda of liberalism having spread globally, an autocratic style doesn’t suit most organisations. And yet there are a few set-ups that work fine under the autocratic system – one highly popular one being Trump Organisation having been centrally led by Donald Trump. Not such a surprise, huh?


14) Democratic leadership:

Having spoken of autocratic leadership, the next in line is the exact opposite – the democratic style. India and The United States of America are examples of two of the world’s largest democracies. In a democratic environment, the subordinates are given a fair share of responsibility and authority to undertake independent projects. However, the final strategic planning is in the hands of the leader, with inputs from his subordinates.


13) Visionary leadership:

Walt Disney had a vision of ‘Making people happy’ whereas Narayana Murthy had the vision for Infosys to become ‘The world’s most respectable company’. Both are exemplary leaders and have successfully driven giant organisations to be pioneers in their respective industries.


12) Emergent leadership:

Emergent leaders are not traditionally elected as the leader of an organisation; rather they work their way up the ladder. They are highly effective leaders, as they have been there, done that; and hence, they are experts at how the organisation works.


11) Coaching leadership:

This form of leadership requires the leader to step in the shoes of a coach, and guide the followers to become efficient performers. Such leaders are empathetic, they motivate the followers to constantly push their limits, and mould them into their best versions which would benefit the organisation at large.


10) Servant leadership:

This is one of the most unpopular forms of leadership that exist in today’s day and age, as it calls for the leader to put forth the needs and welfare of his subordinates, rather than his own benefits. Thus, the motto of the leader is to constantly strive towards the betterment of his followers by serving them, for example, in the case of NGOs and other groups that operate for a specific moral cause.


9) Primal leadership:

The term being crafted by Daniel Goleman, the primal style of leading emphasises on the emotional aspect of managing people and leading them towards the organisation’s goals. It is based on the assumption that without driving emotion into a purpose, one cannot truly work towards it wholeheartedly. The leader’s role is to derive an emotional connect between the organisation’s purpose and the followers’ will.

8) Team leadership:

This style involves setting of a primary objective towards which the team, as an entity, is supposed to work co-operatively. It requires a common sense of purpose, instilled in each of the team member, without which the team shall fail to succeed. Soccer teams are a befitting example here, where the players mutually decide the strength and position of each player – so as to win the match.


7) Transformational leadership:

This style of leaderships entails change in the fundamental ways of working in which an organisation works. It can work wonders when there has been a constant downward trend in the revenue or performance of a company. A transformational leader is typically one who can motivate and inspire people to achieve their highest potential, so as to further the interest of the organisation at large.


6) Situational leadership:

This is a concept that was developed based on the underlying fact that there is no single perfect style of leadership, in that leaders need to adapt to the situation or task at hand and assess the group or followers’ capabilities so as to devise a customised style of leadership. This is a relatively modern concept, and is highly effective in achieving the desired results out of the human resources of a company.


5) Transactional leadership:

In line with the carrot-and-stick approach of management, the transactional philosophy believes in rewarding people when they successfully complete the task at hand, and punishing them when they are inefficient with their work. It uses extrinsic factors, mostly monetary benefits, so as to reward people and hence, does little to intrinsically inspire people to be good at their work. This style works well when a task needs to be carried out in a specific way and there is not much innovation required.


4) Laissez-faire leadership:

Under this form of leadership, the leader is generally passive and allows the subordinates or employees to make decisions by themselves and work on projects without any interference from the top-level. Although it provides autonomy and freedom to the subordinates to carry the work of their own accord, research has shown that this is the least effective style of leadership.


3) Bureaucratic leadership:

It is a form of management built upon a fixed set of duties that are laid out for each level of the hierarchy. Bureaucracies are effective when there is a standard operating procedure for jobs and tasks delegated to officials, and there isn’t much room for out of the box thinking or creativity. A common example is the government institutions that individuals and businesses need to liaise with for documentation, registration, licensing or income tax filings.


2) Strategic leadership:

Strategic management is one of the most effective styles adopted by top-level managers in small to medium sized corporates. The leader or the top management forecasts the vision of the company and chalks out a well-planned strategy to achieve the same in a projected timeframe. This vision is communicated to each of the stakeholders of the organisation, who in turn align their short term and long term goals with the common purpose, thus giving way to a performance-driven organisation.


1) Facilitative leadership:

The leader acts as a facilitator, in that he facilitates ideas, initiatives and implementation by the subordinates so as to get the best out of them. The leader indirectly ignites the spark of motivation in the employees, which leads them to achieving the desired goals efficiently.

To sum it up, leadership comes in various forms and colours. It is on the individual to decide what suits the situation and the organisation, the best, so as to deliver great results.

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Disha Jain

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