Leadership Styles: Definition, Meaning, & Types of Leadership Styles | (2022)

Definition: A leadership style is a method of managing, directing, and motivating followers.

Leadership styles define how leaders strategize their relationships with their followers. Knowing the leadership style is vital to gaining the loyalty of followers and increasing the effectiveness of the leader.

This article gives an overview of seven leadership styles, their pros and cons, factors affecting leadership styles, and tips on choosing the right leadership style.

Factors Affecting Leadership Styles

Leadership is about building relationships. A leader must ensure that the goal of the leadership style is not confined to getting results. It must encourage a healthy relationship between leaders and followers.

Four factors affect leadership styles. These factors are:

  1. The Led
  2. The Leader
  3. The Situation
  4. The Communication

A leader has to weigh these factors while selecting a leadership style, because a key factor in one situation may not significantly affect another situation.

It is vital to understand these factors.

The Led

This is the team directly under a leader’s influence. They are the team members that the leader is responsible for.

The team has a common goal and must work together to achieve the goal.

A team comprises diverse team members, and, therefore, they respond differently to the same type of leadership style.

(Video) Leadership Styles Explained (Kurt Lewin)

Leaders need to know their team members individually, e.g., their characteristics, driving force, traits, etc. They should know if a team member has low self-esteem, possesses a can-do attitude, or is scared of trying.

Knowing each team member helps a leader determine their strengths and weaknesses, and they can use the best leadership style to motivate team members individually.

The Leader

Another important factor that affects leadership style is the leaders themselves. Leaders must understand themselves, as their personality affects their leadership. They should know their strengths and weaknesses.

Self-awareness is important for a good leader. The ability to look inwards and honestly assess themselves, acknowledge weaknesses and shortcomings, and be willing to make changes and improvements are vital for good leadership.

Being aware of their personality can allow them to communicate better, assess the needs of team members, and build productive relationships.

Leaders can ask superiors and colleagues to evaluate them and provide feedback.

Good leaders accept feedback and learn from it.

The Situation

One cannot use a single leadership style in all situations. A leadership style useful for one situation might not work in another.

A leader has to consider PET factors before deciding on the leadership strategy. PET stands for people, equipment, and time.

A leader has to consider the level of competence, motivation, and commitment of team members to perform the task. Some team members may need close monitoring, while others may not require such supervision.

(Video) 5 Different Types of Leadership Styles | Brian Tracy

Timing is key in leadership. Taking action at the right time is a must to get the desired results.

A good leader who adopts the wrong leadership style may re-analyze it and take corrective action instead of holding on to it.

The Communication

Communication is the exchange of information from one person to another. Effective communication occurs when the message is passed across from one party to the other, and the other party understands it and provides feedback.

The importance of effective communication cannot be overemphasized in the work environment. Open communication makes communication more effective and motivates the team.

Body language and physical actions also represent a form of communication. The action or inaction in situations sends a message to the team.

The correct communication with the right leadership is important in earning trust, and it builds confidence and motivates team members. Saying the right thing can boost the morale of the team, even if it is criticism. Criticism done in the right way can motivate team members.

Types of Leadership Styles

Leadership Styles: Definition, Meaning, & Types of Leadership Styles | (1)
  1. Autocratic
  2. Authoritative
  3. Pace-Setting
  4. Democratic
  5. Coaching
  6. Affiliative
  7. Laissez-Faire


Autocratic leadership can be described as a command-and-control type of leadership. An autocratic leader likes total control of the team. The typical “do as you’re told” leader doesn’t allow opportunities for input and suggestions, and the word “team” does not apply to them. It is a strictly leader-and-follower kind of relationship.

Autocratic leaders consider themselves the smartest. They like to assert their authority to show off their knowledge, skills, or perceived superiority at every possible moment.

This leadership method is not ideal, but autocratic leadership isn’t all bad. This leadership style might come in handy when a crucial business decision is necessary. The leader knows his experience and superiority are the edge over other team members to make the decision.

(Video) Leadership Styles: Laissez-faire, Democratic & Autocratic Styles of Leadership

Although this leadership style can be efficient in decision-making, it can restrain innovation, collaboration, and other ideas.


The authoritative style of leadership is one where leaders lead by example. This leadership style is best described as the “follow me” type. Here, leaders not only give commands; they lead by example. They make a move and led the team.

Authoritative leaders have a clear vision of their goals and lead their team via actions. They do not just point the team towards the goals; they explain the idea and dream behind the goals. This is why they’re called visionary leaders.

The difference between autocratic and authoritative leaders is the latter’s ability to communicate intentions with followers, unlike the autocratic leader, who thinks they don’t owe anyone an explanation.

This leadership style is helpful in difficult situations, as the leader makes sure the team is focused on the goals.


The pace-setter leads by setting a quick and fast pace and expecting team members to catch up. An energetic and driven type, this leader has a “follow me and keep up!” attitude.

The pace-setter leadership style drives quick results, but it quickly wears down team members. This approach puts team members under enormous pressure, and it is not healthy in the long run.

This leadership style yields quick results. However, it is not useful in the long run and can cause team burnout.

This does not mean the pacesetter leadership has no significance. This style is useful when running towards tight deadlines.


Democratic leadership is also known as participative leadership. It involves team members in key decision-making. Democratic leaders do not make decisions themselves. They welcome input from team members and make their final decisions based on collective feedback.

(Video) 4 Types of Leadership Styles

In democratic leadership, the leader asks, “What do you think?” This involvement makes team members feel valued, and they will be more dedicated to their tasks.


The coaching leadership style believes everyone has great potential and guides them to achieve the objectives. Here, leaders provide guidance and support and expect team members to develop and achieve their potential. The coaching leader aims to bring out the best in the team while providing feedback and constructive criticism on team performance and areas of improvement.

The coaching leader asks, “What could you try?” and they believe there is nothing a team cannot achieve with the right motivation and guidance.

The coaching leader encourages two-way collaboration and communication and helps improve team skills to perform optimally.


This leadership style encourages cooperation and agreement within teams.

It is a “people come first” type of leadership. The affiliative leader places the utmost importance on team members. They recognize and reward the personal behaviors that aid in carrying out tasks. Therefore, team members aren’t just rewarded for completing a task but also for how they complete it.

This leadership style offers opportunities for diversity and builds trust within an organization.


Laissez-Faire is the opposite of the autocratic leader. Here, leaders give team members the full rein of responsibility. They allow team members to make decisions and do not interfere.

This leadership style encourages trust between team members and leaders. However, this method doesn’t work well with unskilled and unmotivated workers.

The Laissez-Faire leadership style allows team members to take responsibility and make decisions. It is important to ensure this freedom doesn’t backfire. This leadership style works well with skilled and experienced professionals who can work independently. However, the team leader needs to monitor team performance.

(Video) Leadership Styles: Which Type of Leader Are You?

Choosing a Leadership Style

The following tips are useful for selecting the right leadership style:

  1. The leader must analyze their team. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses, experience, skills, maturity, and motivational level of the team members helps determine the right leadership strategy. Find what motivates them and how best they can work given different situations.
  2. Good communication is the key to building mutual trust and respect in a team. A good leader should not be unpredictable. Being consistent in dealing with team members encourages them to approach the leader with honesty and openness.
  3. Team members have different strengths and weaknesses, and they require different levels of supervision. A new team member cannot perform similarly to experienced team members.
  4. A leader should consider the situation, job on hand, and team members while selecting the leadership style.


Leadership must be effective. Leaders must know what leadership styles work best for different situations and select the right one. Great leaders choose the right strategy in all conditions. They analyze the team’s maturity and then select the appropriate leadership style.

The right leadership style creates the best opportunity to get followers behind leaders and offer their full potential to complete the project.


Leadership Styles: Definition, Meaning, & Types of Leadership Styles |? ›

A leadership style refers to a leader's characteristic behaviors when directing, motivating, guiding, and managing groups of people. Great leaders can inspire political movements and social change. They can also motivate others to perform, create, and innovate.

What are the 4 types of leadership styles? ›

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

What are the 7 leadership styles and meaning? ›

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 8 styles of leadership? ›

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

What are the six styles of leadership? ›

According to Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, there are six emotional leadership styles – Authoritative, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Coercive. Each style has a different effect on the emotions of the people that you're leading.

What are the 3 basic leadership styles? ›

Leadership style is a leader's approach to providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. 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).

What are the 12 leadership styles? ›

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

What is the best definition for leadership? ›

Leadership is the ability of an individual or a group of individuals to influence and guide followers or other members of an organization.

What are the 7 primary 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 six leadership styles PDF? ›

The six identified styles are Visionary, Affiliative, Democratic, Coaching, Coercive, and Pacesetting. Researches on organization working climate found out, that working climate definitely has an impact on business results.

What is the best leadership style? ›

1. Authoritative Leadership. The authoritative leader knows the mission, is confident in working toward it, and empowers team members to take charge just as she is. The authoritative leader uses vision to drive strategy and encourages team members to use their strengths and emerge as leaders themselves.

What are the major types of leadership? ›

There are three basic styles of leadership decision-making: authoritarian, democratic, and 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.

How many different types of leadership styles are there? ›

There are nine different leadership styles, and the type you use to direct your team can greatly impact your organization's success. Each leadership style has its strengths, although some – like transformational, democratic and situational leadership – are commonly seen as more desirable.

What are the 13 leadership styles for the different business types? ›

Different leadership styles
  • Autocratic, Authoritarian, Coercive, or Commanding. Autocratic leaders make decisions without seeking input from anyone who reports to them, or anyone at all, usually. ...
  • Affiliative. ...
  • Bureaucratic. ...
  • Coaching. ...
  • Democratic, Facilitative, or Participative. ...
  • Laissez-Faire or Delegative. ...
  • Emergent. ...
  • Pacesetting.
Jan 6, 2020

What are leadership theories? ›

Leadership theories are the explanations of how and why certain people become leaders. They focus on the traits and behaviors that people can adopt to increase their leadership capabilities. Some of the top traits that leaders say are vital to good leadership include: Strong ethics and high moral standards.

What are different leadership approaches? ›

Leadership styles are classifications of how a person behaves while leading a group. Lewyn's leadership styles are authoritarian (autocratic), participative (democratic), and delegative (laissez-faire).

Who is a leader definition PDF? ›

In its most basic form, leadership is defined as the art of moving others to want to struggle for shared aspirations. Therefore, a leader is an individual who possesses the ability to encourage, motivate and/or influence others.

How many definitions of leadership is there? ›

According to Warren Bennis in Leaders (1997) “academic analysis has given us more than 850 definitions of leadership”.

What is importance of leadership? ›

Leadership is a vital management function that helps to direct an organization's resources for improved efficiency and the achievement of goals. Effective leaders provide clarity of purpose, motivate and guide the organization to realize its mission.

What are four qualities of an effective leader? ›

Effective leaders are competent, skilled, secure, and considerate. These leaders find time for everyone; they are genuine and authentic in their communications and actions. People matter to them, and they openly demonstrate this fact to their employees. They care about them and their success.

What is the most effective leadership style? ›

Democratic Leadership

Democratic leadership is one of the most effective leadership styles because it allows lower-level employees to exercise authority they'll need to use wisely in future positions they might hold. It also resembles how decisions can be made in company board meetings.

What are the most common 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 is importance of leadership? ›

Leadership is a vital management function that helps to direct an organization's resources for improved efficiency and the achievement of goals. Effective leaders provide clarity of purpose, motivate and guide the organization to realize its mission.

What are the 3 most important characteristics of a leader? ›

The Most Important Characteristic of a Leader
  • Vision. Great leaders have vision for what they are trying to accomplish and how they will get there. ...
  • Humility. Remember, you are an integral part of the success, not the sole source. ...
  • Commitment. ...
  • Intentionality. ...
  • Audacity. ...
  • Courage. ...
  • Intentionality and Reflection. ...
  • Responsibility.
Jul 6, 2016

What are the 2 types of leadership? ›

Authoritarian leaders rule their groups, democratic leaders try to include everyone in the decision-making process, and laissez-faire leaders let the group function without much - if any - interference.

What is leadership style example? ›

Often called Laissez-Faire, hands-off leaders are an important part of leadership styles examples. Have you ever heard of the expression: “I leave that to you in your capable hands?” Laissez-Faire leaders simply delegate tasks and expect their subordinates to complete those tasks to the best of their abilities.

What are the 12 leadership styles? ›

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

What is the best leadership style and why? ›

Authoritative Leadership

The authoritative leader uses vision to drive strategy and encourages team members to use their strengths and emerge as leaders themselves. The authoritative leader provides high-level direction, but she lets those she leads figure out the best way to get there.

What are the 7 importance of leadership? ›

When people believe in what they are doing, they feel good about their work. Reward team members for their work. Don't reward the wrong people or team members won't value the reward. Provide clear direction and purpose.

What are leadership weaknesses? ›

A leadership weakness is an inability to get people moving in the same direction towards a worthy purpose. Leadership is a difficult to master talent that requires strategic vision, ability to delivery, influencing and communication.

What are the leadership theories? ›

Leadership theories are the explanations of how and why certain people become leaders. They focus on the traits and behaviors that people can adopt to increase their leadership capabilities. Some of the top traits that leaders say are vital to good leadership include: Strong ethics and high moral standards.


1. What Is Modern Leadership? An Overview Of Different Types Of Leadership Styles
(Metaspire Consulting - Nina Segura)
2. Top 8 Leadership Styles - Definitions & Examples | Indeed Career Tips
3. LEADERSHIP- Definition / Theories Of Leadership / Leadership Styles
(Simplified Basic Concepts)
4. Leadership Styles - the six leadership styles you need! Daniel Goleman Leadership Styles based on EI
5. Leadership - Meaning, Definition and Styles
(Vision Academy)
6. Leadership Styles
(Patricia Jenkinson)

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