Five Leadership Styles. Identify Your Type

Effective leadership and a diverse range of styles can contribute to success within any organization. Leadership styles matter because they:

1Influence a leader's effectiveness, determining how well they can motivate, inspire, and guide their team.

2 Shape the organizational culture, impacting employee engagement, performance, and satisfaction.

3 Determine how well a leader can adapt to various challenges, such as managing change, resolving conflicts, or driving innovation.

This article expands on the leadership styles and the specificities of each one of them, with clear benefits and weaknesses, and provides answers to questions such as how to find your leadership style.

What are Leadership Styles?

Leadership styles refer to the various ways leaders guide, motivate, and manage their teams. Different techniques are characterized by distinct behaviors, communication methods, and decision-making processes, with each type suited to different situations and personalities.

Most Popular Leadership Styles

Are you interested to know more about leadership styles? Below are the characteristics, pros, and cons, plus some examples of founders you can relate to.

1. Authoritative or Visionary Leadership

Authoritative leaders provide a clear vision and direction for their team, inspiring employees to work towards a shared goal. They are confident decision-makers and have high expectations for their team's performance. This leadership style is essential when a clear vision and strong guidance are needed.


  • Provides clear direction and vision.
  • Inspires and motivates employees.
  • Establishes high-performance standards.


  • It may be perceived as overly controlling.
  • Can struggle with delegation and collaboration.
  • Potentially less effective with experienced or highly skilled teams.

Founders with these attributes

  • Steve Jobs (Apple), 
  • Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX), 
  • Jeff Bezos (Amazon).

2. Democratic or Participative Leadership

Democratic leaders foster collaboration and open communication, actively seeking input from their team members before making decisions. This leadership style is important for creating an inclusive, empowering work environment that promotes employee engagement and ownership.


  • Encourages employee involvement and collaboration.
  • Fosters a sense of ownership and commitment.
  • Promotes creative problem-solving and innovation.


  • Decision-making may be slower due to team input.
  • Potential for conflicts and disagreements.
  • Less effective in high-pressure or crises.

Founders with these attributes: 

  • Richard Branson (Virgin Group), 
  • Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry's), 
  • Larry Page & Sergey Brin (Google).

3. Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their teams to exceed expectations and achieve outstanding results. They prioritize personal growth, fostering a supportive environment, and encouraging employees to develop their skills and talents. This leadership style is crucial for driving innovation and change.


  • Inspires employees to achieve their full potential.
  • Encourages a culture of ongoing learning and improvement.
  • Drives innovation and change.


  • May overlook details and day-to-day operations.
  • Requires significant time and effort to develop relationships and support.
  • Potentially less effective with task-oriented or highly structured teams.

Founders with these attributes: 

  • Howard Schultz (Starbucks), 
  • Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post), 
  • Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo).

4. Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders focus on achieving specific goals and objectives, using rewards and consequences to motivate their teams. They emphasize clear expectations, structures, and routines, ensuring employees understand their roles and responsibilities. This leadership style is essential for maintaining efficiency and productivity in stable environments.


  • Provides clear expectations and structure.
  • Encourages goal-oriented behavior.
  • Effective for maintaining efficiency and productivity.


  • May stifle creativity and innovation.
  • This can lead to a narrow focus on tasks and goals.
  • Potentially less effective in dynamic or rapidly changing environments.

Founders with these attributes: 

  • Ray Kroc (McDonald's), 
  • Sam Walton (Walmart), 
  • John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil).

5. Servant Leadership

Servant leaders prioritize the needs and well-being of their team members, focusing on creating a supportive and nurturing environment. They emphasize empathy, collaboration, and personal growth, fostering a culture of mutual respect and trust. This leadership style is crucial for building strong, cohesive teams and promoting employee satisfaction.


  • Creates a supportive and nurturing work environment.
  • Fosters solid relationships and trust within the team.
  • Promotes employee satisfaction and well-being.


  • May struggle with assertiveness and decision-making.
  • It can be perceived as overly accommodating or lenient.
  • Less effective in high-pressure or competitive environments.

Founders with these attributes: 

  • Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines), 
  • Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia), 
  • Tony Hsieh (Zappos).

FAQ Leadership Styles

How to Determine Your Leadership Style?

Finding your leadership style is not as easy as counting 1+1 or answering a yes-no question; it’s much more than that. Because finding the answer to this question is a bit more complex, we’re assembled a set of steps that can help you determine your leadership style:

  1. Reflect on your strengths, values, and communication preferences.
  2. Seek feedback from team members, peers, and mentors to gain insights into your leadership behaviors.
  3. Identify situational factors influencing your leadership approach, such as team dynamics, organizational culture, or industry context.
  4. Consider the effectiveness of your current leadership approach, evaluating whether it aligns with your team's needs, and fosters desired outcomes.

How Can Someone Expand Their Leadership Style?

Now that you know what leadership style fits your personality if you want to expand your abilities and see where exactly would be better to look forward, see the following step-by-step approach:

  1. Develop self-awareness by regularly reflecting on your leadership behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses.
  2. Seek diverse perspectives through mentorship, networking, or professional development opportunities.
  3. Learn from other leaders by observing their approaches, reading about their experiences, or engaging in discussions with them.
  4. Practice adaptability by experimenting with different leadership behaviors and approaches in various situations.

Which Leadership Style is the Best?

There is no single "best" leadership style, as the most effective approach depends on the unique context, team dynamics, and desired outcomes. The key to become a successful leader lies in being adaptable and flexible, adjusting your style based on the specific needs of your organisation.

How to Shape Your Leadership Style?

Each of us is different, has unique traits and abilities, and is inclined to lead in a particular way. This doesn’t mean we shall reflect on broadening our perspectives and become better at dealing with people, making decisions, or handling delicate situations such as conflicts at work. 

Let’s see what the key steps are to shape your leadership style:

  1. Assess your current leadership approach, identifying areas for improvement and growth.
  2. Set specific goals for developing your leadership skills, focusing on areas aligned with your values and strengths.
  3. Engage in continuous learning through professional development opportunities, such as workshops, courses, or coaching.
  4. Seek feedback and support from mentors, peers, and team members, incorporating their insights into your leadership development plan.
  5. Practice and refine your leadership skills in various situations, adapting your approach based on context and feedback.

How to Choose Your Leadership Style?

If you’re at the beginning of your career, and look to become a successful leader, and might have some great founders you want to emulate in your approach, that is not enough. You need to assess more elements to understand better how to choose your leadership style. You might start as follows: 

  1. Reflect on your personal strengths, values, and preferred communication methods.
  2. Consider the specific needs and expectations of your team, organization, and industry.
  3. Identify the leadership styles that align with your strengths and resonate with your team's needs.
  4. Experiment with different leadership approaches, evaluating their effectiveness in various situations.
  5. Continuously refine and adapt your leadership style based on feedback, experience, and contextual factors.

Key Takeaways

By incorporating these key takeaways into your leadership journey, you can develop a more effective and adaptable leadership style that fosters success in your team and organization:

  1. Embrace adaptability: Recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all leadership style. Effective leaders are flexible and adaptable, adjusting their approach based on context, team dynamics, and desired outcomes.
  2. Know your strengths and weaknesses: Develop self-awareness by reflecting on your leadership behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses. Use this knowledge to identify growth opportunities and shape your leadership approach.
  3. Pursue continuous learning and development: Engage in ongoing learning and development to expand your leadership skills and adapt to new challenges. Seek diverse perspectives, experiment with different approaches, and incorporate feedback into your leadership development plan.

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