12 most common leadership styles

Throughout history, great leaders have emerged in this world with their different leadership styles. They achieve success through their leadership qualities with different styles of leadership. In this article, we discuss 12 different leadership styles, their strength, weaknesses and guide you to choose which one is best for you.

Leadership style is nothing but a method to deal with team crises, mentor the team and lead them to success. A leader is only effective when he can make tough decisions for the team and is accountable enough to follow through on promises.

A leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way how it should be followed. Strong leadership is the main pillar to organizational success, motivating the team, harnessing talents and creating more leaders. Let’s start our journey to understand the 12 most common leadership styles.

Related: Books that will grow your as a leader

Here are 12 leadership styles

  1. Autocratic
  2. Democratic
  3. Laissez-Faire or Delegative
  4. Coaching
  5. Transformation
  6. Visionary
  7. Managerial
  8. Servant
  9. Pacesetting
  10. Strategic
  11. Affiliative
  12. Bureaucratic

Related: 20 qualities of a great leader

1. Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership is also known as Authoritarian, coercive or commanding leadership due to its approach. It is the strictest type of leadership where leaders have complete command over the team. Leaders order the team whatever should be done or not.

In Autocratic leadership, leaders have a clear vision of what the team needs to do and how things should be done with strict plans. If you are in a team with an autocratic leader you need to follow each and every instruction that the leader gives you.

An autocratic leader didn’t please anyone, even they like to discuss to anyone for decision-making. The autocratic approach is like “My Way or Highway“. They only do their job and maybe their employees don’t like them. Leaders with autocratic style are more similar to bosses.

Pros and Cons of Autocratic Leadership

  1. Decision-making is less time-consuming.
  2. Clearly know what an organization needs to achieve and how.
  3. They strictly follow one path.
  1. They are less creative.
  2. They are not team members’ favorites.
  3. Employees didn’t have sufficient confidence in their leader.
  4. They can sacrifice and minimize group input.

This leadership style is most commonly seen in the military where leaders don’t wait for feedback from others. They do whatever the organization needs. it should apply where quick decisions are made to lead the team in the right way.

2. Democratic Leadership

As clear by the name, this leadership has a democratic approach to the team. For this, it is also called facilitative and Participative leadership. This is exactly the opposite of autocratic leadership, in democratic leadership each and every individual gets involved in decision-making.

Democratic leaders listen to their followers and make decisions on behalf of the majority benefits. In democratic leadership, each and every opinion and feedback matters which leads to the organization having multiple and creative solutions to problems.

When leaders adopt this leadership style it encourages employees to collaborate collectively to identify team problems, get connected to the team well, grow each individual and let them find solutions.

Pros and cons of Democratic Leadership


  1. Give voice to all employees
  2. Help in building trust and relationships between team
  3. The solution is more creative as it is the product of everyone’s thoughts.
  4. A collective effort of the team makes each individual strength as well as the team
  1. More time-consuming than other leadership styles.
  2. Multiple solutions to problem sometimes may lead to confusion.

Democratic leadership is one of te best type of leadership which can apply to any organization, from private businesses to schools to the government.

3.  Laissez-faire Leadership

This leadership approach is simple- “let followers do whatever they want“. In Laissez-faire leadership, each one is the representative(or head) of the organization, for this approach sometimes is called Delegative leadership. it provided minimum guidance to teammates.

Leaders who use this method trust their team members and don’t get involved in their work(the Leader only knows what is going on and doesn’t interfere). This leadership is suitable for trustworthy employees who understand the importance of your vision otherwise leaders may get unfavorable results.

Delegative leadership can also lead a team to disagreement where more than one individual is head of the team and they deal with things in their own way but this leadership style is most efficient when employees are highly confident and experienced. This freedom to employees open the door to new opportunity and give creative solutions to problems.

Pros and Cons of Laissez-faire leadership

  1. Freedom for employees makes them more responsible.
  2. The organization has multiple solutions to a single problem.
  3. Empower employees.
  4. Utilize the best from the employees.
  5. Leaders can focus on the big picture.
  1. Multiple heads in a team lead to disagreement and can split the team into parts.
  2. This May leads to low productivity and sometimes deadlines may miss.
  3. Employees could lose in progress.

 The Laissez-faire leadership style is best suitable for experienced and highly skilled employees who have enough self-confidence to handle minor as well as major problems. This approach to newbies may lead to unfavorable results.

4. Coaching Leadership

Coaching leadership is considered one of the most effective leadership styles where a leader focuses on each individual to reach their potential. it is more focused on individuals, they believe that individual growth is team growth.

Coaching leadership is a bit of a cross between Democratic and Laissez-faire leadership styles, in this approach leader gives you freedom, as well as decision-making comes after multiple inputs from employees. In coaching leadership, leaders train employees, deal with their ups and downs in performance and take them to their highest level.

A leader with a coaching approach views his teammates as a pool of talented and skilled employees who could be groomed as highly skilled individuals or leaders. They recognize and nurture an individual strength, motivate them to handle their weaknesses and promote growth.

Pros and Cons of Coaching Leadership

  1. healthy for individuals to boost their skills
  2. Promote a positive environment
  3. Make a team as a bunch of highly skilled employees
  1. Coaching leadership is time-consuming, leaders and employees should have a certain level of patience to see results.
  2. Focusing on one individual can bring jealousy to others.

Coaching leadership is best suitable for long-term strength building. If an employee comes for a short period they will definitely get benefits and the leader wastes his time too.

5. Transformation Leadership

Transformation leadership simply focuses on encouraging and empowering each individual to step out of their comfort zone. Leaders in this approach ask their employees to push their boundaries. Transformational leadership occurs when leaders perform their roles so effectively that they gain the trust, respect, appreciation and loyalty of the people who follow them. 

In Transformation leadership, leaders focus on the future, change and each individual. In this approach, it is the leader’s duty to make the transition period smooth for both leaders and employees. They motivate teams and individuals to build confidence and accountability.

In Transformation leadership, the leader takes control of the group, communicates with them and creates a shared vision. In this leadership style, leaders make sure that each individual works on the same vision. They adopt the approach to inspire their follower to achieve more than they ever thought by tapping into individuals’ potential.

Pros and Cons of Transformation Leadership

  1. Focus on the future, so make the transition period smooth.
  2. They strengthen employees to help them to achieve their best version.
  1. Can lead to Employee burn out.
  2. Outcome takes time
  3. Carries a High potential for abuse

Transformation leaders are all about big vision, thinking and intellectual stimulation to create a thriving open work culture. Transformational Leaders have a great impact on their follower as they have ability to change their follower belief system.

6. Visionary Leadership

As clear by name vision leadership is strongly committed to the big picture and vision. In visionary leadership, leaders consider themselves mentors. They have a ‘follow-me’ approach. They show the path to employees and how things should be done. In Visionary leadership, the leader comes with the idea that the organization’s vision should mapped with employees’ vision.

In Visionary leadership, leaders provide overall direction, feedback, guidance and motivation to employees. This approach is heavily based on getting to know each member well. Here leaders tends to set objective by mapping where the organization going and what will happen when they get there.

Pros and Cons of Visionary Leadership

  1. Place a high value on the future of the organization.
  2. Boost employee morale.
  3. Push employees to achieve their best.
  1. A big-picture approach sometimes fades little achievements.
  2. The team may suffer from procrastination if little progress is not measurable.
  3. Things become unachievable if the team’s short-term strategies is not clear.

Visionary leadership are best suitable to startups. With proper goal management leaders and employees both enjoy the progress.

7. Managerial Leadership

Managerial leadership refers to the process of guiding and influencing employees or team members to achieve organizational goals and objectives while effectively managing resources, tasks, and responsibilities.

Sometimes leaders in managerial leadership are so obsessed with this leadership style that they tends to set reward and punishment formats for employees. Managerial leadership focuses on achieving results through planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling tasks, while also inspiring and motivating individuals to perform at their best.

Pros and Cons of Managerial Leadership

  1. Efficient in achieving short-term targets and goals.
  2. Managerial Leadership improves consistency.
  3. good in repetitive work.
  4. Make employees accountable for their work as there is a well-structured planning of things.
  1. Very hard for leaders to make good relations with the team.
  2. Makes employees less creative.
  3. Too much dependency on a leader makes employees’ path of growth hard.

One of the common leadership styles is the most used in sales and management.

8. Servant Leadership

As the name suggests, in servant leadership, a leader considers themselves as the servant of the organization. They take leadership as a duty and lead the team as per organization standards. Servant leaders share powers and decision-making with teams. They often direct the organization based on team interests.

Leaders in Servant leadership take care of their employees, clients and the general community at any cost. They tend to choose an organization over their personal achievements. This leadership style promotes a nurturing and supportive environment where leaders prioritize the needs of their team members, enabling them to reach their full potential and contribute effectively to the organization’s goals.

Pros and Cons of Servant Leadership

  1. Servant Leaders empower their team members
  2. One of the most ethical types of leadership. The team connects with values
  3. good in long-term goals where employees become assets to the organization.
  1. Servant leadership requires a significant investment of time and effort to understand individuals.
  2. Focusing too much on individual needs could potentially hinder achieving broader objectives.
  3. Decision-making requires time.

Servant leadership is the need of almost every organization where leaders take care of the team while keeping the organization’s goal in mind. Servant Leaders also work to create more leaders to lead organizations in the future.

Related: 20 qualities of a great leader

9. Pacesetting Leadership

Leaders in pacesetting leadership come with the motto – ‘Set the pace, direct the team, push the team to do the same’. In the pacesetting leadership, leaders push employees to work hard as they do and achieve things at a fast pace.

Leaders in pacesetting leadership believe in leading the team by example and setting high standards for teams. Sometimes these leaders create a high-pressure environment for individuals which may or may not be suitable. They are someone like motivational speakers who try to motivate you without knowing your Pros and Cons.

Pros and Cons of Pacesetting Leadership

  1. it is easy for highly confident employees to align with the leader to make a strong team.
  2. Effective to get short-term results.
  3. Create a highly dynamic environment for teams.
  1. it totally depends on the leader’s pace how the team will run.
  2. it becomes hard for employees whose confidence level is low.

This leadership style is best used when you have a highly skilled and motivated team from whom you desire short-term results. 

10. Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership acts as a bridge between seniors and juniors. In strategic leadership, leaders ensure that both executive interest and working conditions for the team are stable when making the decision. Strategic leaders are responsible for setting the overall strategic direction, making critical decisions, and aligning the organization’s resources and efforts to achieve strategic objectives.

Strategic leaders ensure that all levels of the organization are aligned with the strategic goals and that day-to-day activities support the long-term vision.

Pros and Cons of Strategic Leadership

  1. good for long-term success.
  2. Efficient use of all resources.
  3. Leaders’ communication with employees improves team bonding.
  1. Time-Consuming
  2. Complexity in maintaining multiple levels of decision-making

People who lead strategically come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in every arena, from politics, to entertainment, to business, and beyond.

11. Affiliative Leadership

In Affiliative leadership, the leader focuses on an employee-first approach. Leaders take care of employees’ interests in every condition. In Affiliative leadership, the leader emphasizes building strong relationships, trust, and a sense of belonging among team members.

Affiliative leaders focus on encouraging harmony and peace among employees. Affiliative leaders prioritize the emotional well-being of their team members and aim to foster a sense of camaraderie and collaboration. This leadership style is often associated with empathy, effective communication, and a focus on teamwork.

In Affiliative leadership most decisions are taken by employees themselves, only a few or the most important decisions are taken by leaders.

Pros and Cons of Affiliative Leadership

  1. Created the best environment to work for a team
  2. Conflict among team members resolves quickly as they are directly engaged in the leadership pack.
  3. Reduce stress and tension in the workplace
  4. Employees feel more connected
  1. Sometimes individual needs overshadow the team’s needs.
  2. Slow Decision making
  3. Potential for Favoritism

12. Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leadership is a management style characterized by a strict adherence to established rules, procedures, and hierarchy. It is often associated with a highly structured and formalized organizational environment.

The effectiveness of bureaucratic leadership largely depends on the context and the specific needs of the organization. In some situations, it may be an appropriate leadership style, while in others, it may hinder organizational performance and adaptability.

Pros and Cons of Bureaucratic Leadership

  1. Leaders follow a clear structure
  2. Action is consistent because rules and procedures are set.
  3. Increase efficiency as tasks are predefined.
  1. Rigid for employees
  2. slow for new decision-making
  3. Employees feel a lack of empowerment
  4. Low creativity

Bureaucratic leadership style can be of advantage for highly surveilled businesses where the entire organization pivots on efficient management. Workspaces that do not necessarily require innovation, problem-solving, or creativity can employ this style of leadership to their advantage.

By understanding each of these leadership styles, and the outcomes they are designed to achieve, you can select the right leadership style for your current situation.

Related: Books that will grow your as a leader

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