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5 Different Types of Leadership Styles in Management - HRDQ

5 Different Types of Leadership Styles in Management

Becoming a good leader starts with identifying and refining your leadership style. There are several common types of leadership styles in management, but none are necessarily better than others. The most effective leadership style largely depends on you, your personality, and how your team responds to different management tactics.

Your leadership style is likely to change over time as you learn what does and does not work for you and your team. As such, it’s important to understand how different styles influence different outcomes and how you can combine different styles to accommodate your team’s unique needs and challenges. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common types of leadership styles in management and their advantages and disadvantages.

What's My Leadership Style is a management development tool, leadership style assessment, and training workshop that identifies a person's leadership style. It helps organizational leaders, managers, and supervisors improve performance and become effective leaders.

5 Common Leadership Styles

Leadership styles can range from completely authoritarian to laissez-faire, with plenty of room in between. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of these individual styles can help you identify and develop a personal management style that maximizes the potential of yourself and your team. Here are five of the most common leadership styles in management:

1. Autocratic

Autocratic or authoritarian leadership is a style of management that focuses on maximizing efficiency and results through making decisions without taking any input from other team members.

Autocratic leadership is often considered to be ineffective for many reasons, but primarily due to the fact that it often leaves employees feeling undervalued and frustrated. Autocratic leaders make decisions on their own and expect employees to adhere to their directions without question.

Authoritarian leadership can present some advantages. For example, autocratic leaders often make quick decisions and provide clear directions that make it easy for employees to understand their objectives. They can also reduce employee stress by not burdening them with difficult decisions.

2. Democratic

Democratic leadership is often considered to be a more effective alternative to autocratic leadership. Democratic leaders consult their team members and listen to their input before making a major decision. While the manager ultimately has the final say, employees are able to offer their opinions, making them feel more valued and appreciated.

Democratic leadership offers several advantages. It helps lower-level employees develop leadership and decision-making skills that they will likely need as they climb up the ladder. It also helps managers make more informed business decisions as they receive valuable input from employees in specialized roles.

The main drawback to democratic leadership is that it can be inefficient in some cases as it takes a significant amount of time to organize discussions and collect input from employees before making an important decision.

3. Transactional

Transactional leadership is a performance-based style of leadership that rewards employees for the work they do.

Transactional leaders value achieving goals and often set performance-based incentives to motivate their employees. This may include financial bonuses for hitting certain milestones, or in some cases, disciplinary actions for employees that don’t complete their objectives.

This type of leadership can help establish clear objectives and responsibilities for team members, but in some cases, it can encourage employees to only do the minimum required to achieve their individual incentives.

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4. Laissez-faire

Laissez-faire leadership typically involves delegating tasks to team members and offering very little supervision or direction. Leaders pass authority on to their team members and trust them to find the best way to perform their jobs and accomplish goals.

This style of leadership can be effective in teams that include experienced, highly-skilled employees that can be trusted to manage themselves. Laissez-faire leadership also often instills confidence in employees as they feel empowered and trusted. On the other hand, it can occasionally lead to inefficiency as employees don’t have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, or objectives.

5. Transformational

Transformational leaders are focused on establishing clear goals and encouraging pushing employees to perform their best. Often, transformational leaders will give employees goals and milestones that may be simple at first but are constantly evolving with the intention of pushing employees out of their comfort zones.

This style of leadership is common with growth-minded managers that want to see what their employees are capable of. These types of leaders are often delegating new responsibilities and tasks to employees to help them grow and maximize their performances.

While this style of leadership can help you get the most out of your employees, in some cases, employees may not be equipped to handle the new roles and responsibilities given to them. With transformational leadership, it’s important to give employees access to training and other resources that help them achieve their objectives.

Find Your Leadership Style with HRDQ

Finding your leadership style is the key to maximizing your team’s performance and becoming a successful manager.

At HRDQ, we provide high-quality assessments and leadership training materials to help leaders develop their skills and get the most out of their teams. What’s My Leadership Style? is a management leadership development course designed to help leaders identify and develop their personal leadership styles. With this assessment, you’ll be able to better understand how you can improve team performance and become an effective manager.

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.