10 leadership styles and their pros and cons - Torch (2022)

Think back on the leader you admire most. What exactly is it about their leadership style that you like? And are these traits that you could emulate yourself?

These are great questions to ask yourself, and understanding the various leadership styles that are out there can help you come to a more conclusive answer. To help, we provided a snapshot of the 10 most common leadership styles below.

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These leadership styles are organized as a continuum from the most rigid, structured style to the most flexible, unstructured style. We also assigned a rating to indicate Torch’s level of recommendation for each leadership style, with 1 being least likely to recommend and 5 being most likely to recommend.

Autocratic leadership is defined by a top-down approach when it comes to all decision-making, procedures, and policies within an organization. An autocratic leader focuses less on collecting input from team members and tends to make executive decisions that others are expected to follow.


  • Can be efficient, especially when it comes to decision making
  • Keeps teams cohesive and consistent since one person is taking charge
  • May make everyone’s individual roles clearer since they’ll be delegated specific duties and won’t be encouraged to step outside of that role


  • Can stifle creativity, collaboration, and innovation
  • Doesn’t lead to diversity in thought
  • May lead to disengaged individuals and teams who feel like they don’t have a voice
  • Doesn’t allow any room for mentorship or professional growth

Recommendation rating: 1 out of 5 (least likely to recommend)

Transactional leadership is defined by control, organization, and short-term planning. Leaders who adopt this style rely on a system of rewards and punishment to motivate their followers. As you can see, there are many similarities between transactional leadership and autocratic leadership. The main difference is that transactional leadership, as the name implies, involves a clear exchange between the leader and the team members. For instance, in exchange for compliance and high performance, an employee might be rewarded with a promotion.


  • Can be an efficient way to reach short-term goals
  • Clearly defines expected behavior from team members due to system of reward and punishment
  • Provides structure and stability


  • Limits creativity, growth, and initiative
  • May not be impactful on people who aren’t driven by extrinsic motivation
  • Can be discouraging for those who are looking for professional and personal development opportunities

Recommendation rating: 2 out of 5 (less likely to recommend)

Bureaucratic leadership relies on a clear chain of command, strict regulations, and conformation by its followers. As the name implies, this is a leadership style that’s commonly found in government entities, as well as military and public organizations.

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  • Stable in terms of job security and outcomes
  • Removes favoritism from the equation
  • Very clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations
  • A highly visible set of processes and regulations


  • Inefficient since everything has to go through a chain of command
  • Doesn’t encourage an individual’s personal or professional growth
  • Stifles creativity, innovation, and free thinking
  • Doesn’t foster collaboration or relationship building within teams
  • Can make it difficult to respond to change

Recommendation rating: 2 out of 5 (less likely to recommend)

Charismatic leadership is defined by a leader who uses their communication skills, persuasiveness, and charm to influence others. Charismatic leaders, given their ability to connect with people on a deep level, are especially valuable within organizations that are facing a crisis or are struggling to move forward.


  • Highly inspirational and motivating
  • Encourages a sense of camaraderie, collaboration, and union
  • Makes followers feel heard and understood
  • Creates movement toward positive change


  • Can become more focused on themselves than their people
  • Has the potential to become self serving
  • Frequently viewed as shallow or disingenuous

Recommendation rating: 3 out of 5 (might recommend)

Transformational leaders create a vision based on identified needs and guide their teams toward that unified goal through inspiration and motivation. The main difference between transformational leadership and the other styles we’ve covered so far is that this one is focused on changing the systems and processes that aren’t working – unlike transactional leadership or bureaucratic leadership, which don’t aim to change the status quo.


  • Motivating for the team
  • Conducive to building strong relationships and encouraging collaboration
  • Gives team members autonomy to do their jobs
  • Can lead to more creativity, growth, and empathy on teams


  • May not be the best fit for specific organizations (i.e. bureaucratic)
  • Can cause feelings of instability while disrupting the status quo
  • Lots of pressure on the leader, who needs to lead by example

Recommendation rating: 5 out of 5 (most likely to recommend)

Coaching leadership is a style defined by collaboration, support, and guidance. Coaching leaders are focused on bringing out the best in their teams by guiding them through goals and obstacles.

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  • Encourages two-way communication and collaboration
  • Involves lots of constructive feedback
  • Facilitates the personal and professional development of individuals
  • Focuses on being supportive, not judgmental
  • Creates opportunities for growth and creative thinking


  • Resource intensive since it requires a lot of time and energy
  • Doesn’t always lead to the fastest, most efficient results
  • May not be the ideal choice for high-pressure or strictly results-driven companies

Recommendation rating: 5 out of 5 (most likely to recommend)

Democratic leadership, which is also commonly known as participative leadership, is about letting multiple people participate in the decision-making process. This type of leadership can be seen in a wide range of contexts, from businesses to schools to governments.


  • Encourages collaboration
  • Inclusive of a variety of opinions and ways of thinking
  • Leads to higher group engagement and productivity
  • Can result in more creative solutions
  • The outcome is supported by the majority


  • The minority opinion is overridden
  • The involvement of multiple people can lead to more communication gaps and confusion
  • Can take a longer time to come to a decision
  • An unskilled or untrained group can result in more decision making

Recommendation rating: 4 out of 5 (likely to recommend)

Collaborative leadership is focused on encouraging people to work together across functional and organizational boundaries. The purpose of this leadership style is to encourage collaboration with other teams and departments to accomplish shared goals.


  • Can lead to more creative, innovative ways of thinking
  • More opportunities for diversity
  • Can strengthen cross-team relationships
  • Builds trust within an organization


  • May lead to ambiguity in roles and responsibilities
  • Can create cross-team conflict
  • Potential power struggle between leaders

Recommendation rating: 4 out of 5 (most likely to recommend)

Servant leadership puts the needs and wellbeing of followers first. In other words, these types of leaders adopt a serve-first approach and growth mindset to prioritize their organization, employees, and community above themselves.

(Video) Leadership Styles


  • Focuses on the development and growth of others
  • Can lead to improved performance, innovation, and collaboration
  • Creates a safe environment where people aren’t afraid to fail
  • Reduces turnover and disengagement
  • Increases trust with leaders


  • Servant leaders can become more easily burnt out
  • Resource intensive
  • Difficult to train other leaders in the serve-first mindset
  • Can take longer to see results or reach goals
  • Has the potential to be perceived as ‘weak’

Recommendation rating: 4 out of 5 (likely to recommend)

Laissez-faire leadership takes a hands-off approach to leadership and gives others the freedom to make decisions. While leaders still provide their teams with the resources and tools they need to succeed, they remain largely uninvolved in the day-to-day work. This is a leadership style you’ll commonly find in creative settings, such as advertising agencies or startups, due to its encouragement of independent thinking.


  • Empowers individuals to practice their leadership skills
  • Can lead to increased creativity and innovation
  • Less fear of failure
  • Encourages trust between team members and leader
  • Instill a sense of independence


  • Can result in low productivity
  • Conflict amongst team members is common
  • May lead to confusion about roles and responsibilities
  • Won’t be effective with an unskilled or unmotivated team

Recommendation rating: 3 out of 5 (might recommend)

We hope this overview of the most common leadership styles was helpful. If you’re curious to learn more or want to take a deeper dive into a leadership style that resonated with you, be sure to check out our ebook, 10 Leadership Styles You Should Know. We provide everything from personalized recommendations for each leadership style to situational examples of what all these approaches look like in action.


What are the pros and cons of leadership? ›

Being a leader has many benefits — there is more control in the job, more decision-making power, and more autonomy at work. However, it also comes with higher expectations and thus, more stress. A good leader is expected not to just perform and deliver, but also to inspire others to perform well in good and bad times.

What are the 8 leadership styles? ›

Eight Common Leadership Styles
  • Transactional Leadership. ...
  • Transformational Leadership. ...
  • Servant Leadership. ...
  • Democratic Leadership. ...
  • Autocratic Leadership. ...
  • Bureaucratic Leadership. ...
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership. ...
  • Charismatic Leadership.

What are the types of leadership styles? ›

The 5 leadership styles you can use
  • Authoritarian Leadership.
  • Participative Leadership.
  • Delegative Leadership.
  • Transactional Leadership.
  • Transformational Leadership.

What are the 12 types of leadership? ›

12 LEADERSHIP STYLES for successful leaders
  • Bureaucratic.
  • Transactional.
  • Authoritarian.
  • Authoritative.
  • Visionary.
  • Pacesetting.
  • Democratic.
  • Coaching.
Jul 1, 2020

What are the various types of leadership styles explain Class 12? ›

These are: Autocratic or authoritative leadership. Participative or democratic leadership; and. Free rein or laissez-faire leadership.

What are pros and cons? ›

The pros and cons of something are its advantages and disadvantages, which you consider carefully so that you can make a sensible decision. They sat for hours debating the pros and cons of setting up their own firm.

What are the pros of a leader? ›

5 reasons strong leadership is important in a business
  • Implements vision and values. ...
  • Boosts morale. ...
  • Ensures effective communication. ...
  • Motivates employees. ...
  • Provides appropriate resources.
Jul 5, 2019

What are the 7 different leadership styles? ›

There are seven common leadership styles in management, each of which has its place in a leader's toolkit:
  • Autocratic Leadership.
  • Pacesetting Leadership.
  • Transformational Leadership.
  • Coaching Leadership.
  • Democratic Leadership.
  • Affiliative Leadership.
  • Delegative Leadership.
Jun 17, 2022

What are the best leadership styles? ›

The 8 Most Effective Leadership Styles
  • Democratic Leadership. ...
  • Autocratic Leadership. ...
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership. ...
  • Transactional Leadership. ...
  • Charismatic Leadership. ...
  • Transformational Leadership. ...
  • Servant Leadership. ...
  • Bureaucratic Leadership.
Jan 19, 2022

What are the 4 leadership styles? ›

Types of Leadership Styles
  • Autocratic.
  • Democratic.
  • Laissez-faire.
  • Transformational.
Mar 14, 2022

What are the 7 leadership styles PDF? ›

The seven primary leadership styles are: (1) Autocratic, (2) Authoritative, (3) Pace-Setting, (4) Democratic, (5) Coaching, (6) Affiliative, (7) Laissez-faire.

What are the 3 main leadership styles? ›

In 1939, psychologist Kurt Lewin and a team of researchers determined that there were three basic leadership styles: Authoritarian (Autocratic), Participative (Democratic) and Delegative (Laissez-Faire).

How many types of leadership are there? ›

The following infographic from Business-Management-Degree.net identifies six types of leaders: Authoritative, Affiliative, Democratic, Coaching, Pacesetting, and Coercive.

What is autocratic leadership style? ›

Autocratic, or authoritarian leaders, are often described as those with ultimate authority and power over others. These leaders tend to make choices based upon their own ideas alone and do not listen to their team or seek input from others.

What are the leadership styles proposed by Kurt Lewin? ›

Lewin's Leadership Styles
  • Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic)
  • Participative Leadership (Democratic)
  • Delegative Leadership (Laissez-Faire)
  • Observations About Lewin's Leadership Styles.
  • Transformational Leadership.
  • Transactional Leadership.
  • Situational Leadership.
May 23, 2022

What is leadership class 11? ›

Leadership is a social quality and the art of guiding and motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. It is the quality which enables the person to take initiative and guide others in performing some required task. A good leader raises the group to new heights.

What are advantages of autocratic leadership? ›

The benefits of autocratic leadership
  • Decisions can be made very quickly. ...
  • Organisational goals are reached unambiguously. ...
  • There is a clear chain of command. ...
  • Productivity can greatly improve. ...
  • Creativity can be stifled. ...
  • Not everyone feels aligned with the vision. ...
  • Autonomy is reduced. ...
  • Morale can be negatively impacted.

What is meant by leadership class 12? ›

Ans. Leadership is an attempt aimed at influencing people directly towards the attainment of given goals. Leadership may also be defined as an art or process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically towards the achievement of group goals.

What are the pros and cons of transformational leadership? ›

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Transformational Leadership
  • It Keeps the Company Open, Honest and Ethical. ...
  • It Reduces Turnover Costs. ...
  • It Encourages Change. ...
  • There is Too Much Focus on the Bigger Picture. ...
  • It Can be Risky and Disruptive. ...
  • It Puts Increased Pressure on Team Members.
Dec 16, 2019

What are the pros and cons of laissez-faire? ›

Under laissez-faire leadership, some employees may act upon their own self interest, accumulating resources and directing decisions that may not lead to the best results for the department. Conversely, multiple leaders who are sincere in their intentions may disagree over decisions, slowing productivity.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of democratic leadership style? ›

Advantages of democratic leadership include creating employee job satisfaction and encouraging innovation and creative solutions to organizational issues and problems. Disadvantages can include reduction of efficiency and problems with accountability.

What are cons of being a leader? ›

  • Can stifle creativity, collaboration, and innovation.
  • Doesn't lead to diversity in thought.
  • May lead to disengaged individuals and teams who feel like they don't have a voice.
  • Doesn't allow any room for mentorship or professional growth.
Aug 18, 2020

What are some cons of being a leader? ›


Its relentlessness – when you are leading, you can't duck it and walk away, no matter what comes down the pike. 3. When leading, you are often expecting people to change. Change is threatening, so people are often deeply upset by the journey you are leading them on and take it out on you.

What are the cons of being a follower? ›

As a follower, you may be forced to do or accept to do things you don't want to accept or do. You may not be allowed to share your views and express yourself as much as possible, especially if your leader is a dictator.

What are different types of leadership give examples of each? ›

8 Different Leadership Styles (and Their Pros and Cons)
  • Transactional Leadership. ...
  • Transformational Leadership. ...
  • Servant Leadership. ...
  • Democratic Leadership. ...
  • Autocratic Leadership. ...
  • Bureaucratic Leadership. ...
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership. ...
  • Charismatic Leadership.
Jan 3, 2022

Who developed the 7 leadership styles? ›

Psychologist Kurt Lewin developed his framework in the 1930s, and it provided the foundation of many of the approaches that followed afterwards.

What are the 6 management styles? ›

6 Types of Management Styles
  • Commanding Management. ...
  • Visionary Management. ...
  • Affiliative Management. ...
  • Democratic Management. ...
  • Pacesetting Management. ...
  • Coaching Management.

What is your leadership style best answer? ›

Example Answer #1:

“I would describe my leadership style as direct, and leading by example. I enjoy delegating tasks and taking the lead on projects, but I also like to stay involved and inspire my team by showing that I'm working hands-on to help them, too.

What is the most common leadership style? ›

Participative leadership

Participative leaders take a democratic approach and empower their workers to feel like an integral part of the decision-making process — and the organization as a whole. This approach evens the playing field so each level of employee has equal say in important business matters.

What leadership style is least effective? ›

According to Dr. Hunt, “The least effective leaders are those who micromanage and are exclusively top-down, hierarchical leaders. These styles used to be the norm, but they are being replaced by more team-oriented styles focused on delegating and empowering.

Who created the 4 leadership styles? ›

Psychologist Kurt Lewin created one of the most common leadership models. His research identified three styles of leadership: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire. Each covered a wide range of approaches: from autocratic/ command-and-control to participative/ collaborative and delegative/ detached.

What are the 7 leadership styles Google Scholar? ›

The leadership styles chosen for the study are charismatic, transformational, transactional, autocratic, bureaucratic, and democratic.

What are the 4 types of leadership PDF? ›

4 Different Types of Leadership Styles
  • Autocratic or Authoritarian leadership. An autocratic leader centralizes power and decision-making in himself. ...
  • Democratic or Participative leadership. Participative or democratic leaders decentralise authority. ...
  • The Laissez-faire or Free-rein leadership. ...
  • Paternalistic leadership.

What are the styles of leadership PDF? ›

Important leadership styles identified by the researches are Autocratic leadership style, Bureaucratic leadership style, charismatic leadership style, democratic leadership or participative leadership style, laissez-faire leadership style, people-oriented leadership/relations-oriented leadership/ human relation ...

What is positive leadership style? ›

Positive leadership involves experiencing, modeling, and purposefully enhancing positive emotions. A positive leader is interested in his or her employees' development as well as the bottom line. High self-awareness, optimism, and personal integrity (Avolio & Gardner, 2005).

What are the 5 leadership styles? ›

Let's take a look at the five most common leadership styles and how they can influence an organization's success.
  • Authoritarian leadership (autocratic) ...
  • Participative leadership (democratic) ...
  • Delegative leadership (laissez-faire) ...
  • Transactional leadership (managerial) ...
  • Transformational leadership (visionary)
Nov 1, 2021

What are the 4 leadership styles? ›

Types of Leadership Styles
  • Autocratic.
  • Democratic.
  • Laissez-faire.
  • Transformational.
Mar 14, 2022

What are the 3 leadership styles? ›

In 1939, psychologist Kurt Lewin and a team of researchers determined that there were three basic leadership styles: Authoritarian (Autocratic), Participative (Democratic) and Delegative (Laissez-Faire).

How many types of leadership are there? ›

The following infographic from Business-Management-Degree.net identifies six types of leaders: Authoritative, Affiliative, Democratic, Coaching, Pacesetting, and Coercive.


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