Organizational Wellness

9 Leadership Styles: Which One Fits You?

Dec 13, 2022
Last Updated Jun 1, 2023

Sometimes, finding a manager with the ideal leadership style for your team can feel like lightning in a bottle…you’re not exactly sure what it is about how they manage, but it works! You just don’t know how to recapture those same leadership skills or replicate the success you’re seeing for other teams.

Well, we’ve got amazing news: you don’t have to leave great leaders up to chance! While there are certainly natural-born leaders, you can bring out those leadership qualities when you understand leadership styles. So, without further ado, let’s talk about types of leadership styles, how to hire great leaders that are the right fit, and what you should do to encourage the best leadership styles in management.

Why It’s Important to Develop a Leadership Style

Helping leaders in your company identify their leadership styles helps them be more effective, aware of potential pitfalls, and more consistent with company policies and values. Having a specific type of management style also helps both leaders in management and HR align their vision and goals with the organization’s mission and goals. 

Not only should you hire and nurture managers, but you also need to look at each employee as a current and future leader and help them develop a style, too. Leadership skills have become a favorite skill of employers, with one Indeed survey finding that 55% of employersuse questions about leadership skills to determine a candidate’s ability to succeed in their role. Whether you are hiring for a management position or filling a fulfillment position, leadership is key!

9 Common Leadership Styles

Different types of leadership styles were first introduced in 1939 by psychologist Kurt Lewin, and originally there were just three overarching leadership styles: autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. Since then, management styles have expanded to include six others that offer more nuance to the types of leadership styles. We’ll go over each type and discuss the pros, cons, and everything in between.

  1. Autocratic

Autocratic leadership is characterized by a leader that controls every aspect of their team. They make all the decisions, delegate tasks according to their own preferences, and make their authority and power known to their team members. 

This type of leader is typically very confident in themselves and their leadership skills and also usually has a decent track record in terms of success. They often feel that their experience and expertise far outweigh that of their team members, which is partially why they take on all of the decision-making, such as policy decisions, determining what tasks take priority, and who works together. 

Why it works

Autocratic leaders are decisive, self-confident, and have a focused commitment to the goal, which means most processes and decisions are about as streamlined as they can get. You’ll get more clarity, drive, and focus from this type of leadership, which makes for very effective teams. This leadership style is most successful when your business needs to control specific situations that require difficult decision-making and laser focus.


Decisions are typically made one at a time so that the team can’t be independent of the leader and other employees aren’t consulted before changes are made. This can be good for consistency and efficiency, but this also doesn’t allow for as much innovation or creativity, and can even stifle delegation and time management. Especially if managers are hostile or overwork their teams, there’s poor morale, micromanagement, and an over-reliance on one person.

  1. Democratic

The democratic leadership style is characterized by a leader who wants to include the entire team in the decision-making process. This is the counterpart to autocratic leadership where the work and decision-making are much more collaborative. Group discussions are far more common and the priority is to help the team to feel like they’ve had a hand in every process.

Democratic leaders are great communicators, approachable, and strong listeners. They aim to create a culture where team members feel empowered, heard, and respected. Team members are given the opportunity to be involved in projects as much or as little as they would like and have a say in the direction their team is headed.

Why it works

Democratic leadership is one of the most successful and effective ways to lead a business. It is especially useful in a team setting since it promotes teamwork, communication, and collaboration. This also allows non-management employees to exercise their own leadership and authority so they can gain experience and qualify for future positions.


Because collaboration takes extra time and consideration at every step this type of leadership may not work in every setting. For example, a democratic leader may not be the best fit to lead a team that must meet strict or unexpected deadlines. You’ll spend more time discussing the best use of time and resources that could be spent directly working on projects, and employees with less experience can contribute to poor decision-making.

  1. Laissez-faire

The laissez-faire style uses a more “hands-off” approach to guiding a team or business, and if you’re thinking this means lazy, you’ve got it all wrong. “Laissez-faire” directly translates to “let them do” and requires a great deal of trust from both leadership and employees. Instead of micromanaging, the core of laissez-faire leadership is trusting employees and refusing to interfere with the work the team is doing.

These leaders are great delegators and empower employees to do their best work by trusting them to use their time and authority wisely. They expect their employees to problem-solve and will only step in when their expertise is needed.

Why it works

Most organizations who use this leadership style hold employees accountable for their work and the results they yield, which is what incentivizes employees to perform and push themselves. This tends to create a more relaxed work environment where employees feel valued and stimulates a lot of creativity and innovation at every level of the company. 


Of course, there are dangers to this type of leadership, too. Although individuals are more creative, they are also more independent which tends to put teamwork on the back burner. This approach is also extra challenging if employees are new or inexperienced and need more guidance than their leaders regularly offer.

  1. Transformational

The motto for transformational leadership is improvement, improvement, improvement! This type of leader is characterized by creating a grand vision and pushing the team towards it through innovation and productivity. Transformational leaders are very goal oriented and excel at motivating and empowering team members to work towards goals.

Why it works

A transformational leader aims to inspire their team members to reach their full potential by promoting learning, growth, and change, so employees are in an exciting and evolving environment that shows employees their potential. Transformational leaders also have a good balance between gathering input from others while still being able to make decisions on behalf of the team, making both innovative and productive teams.


It can be difficult to track individual learning curves and easy to lose someone in the constant growth of your business, especially when it comes to employee burnout. This is why it’s important to consider your benchmarks as a team and carefully balance growth and rest.

  1. Pacesetting

Pacesetting leaders are especially ambitious, make quick decisions, and can have high expectations. They tend to be perfectionists who often expect their team members to go above and beyond without a lot of prompting or guidance. These leaders are also very results-driven and are likely very hands-on with their team members.

Why it works

Pacesetting leaders are very confident and tend to instill that confidence in their employees, especially experienced employees who know what they are doing and want to go, go, go. This can be a rewarding setting for teams who accomplish a lot and meet their goals consistently!


On the other hand, the pacesetting leadership style can lead to a high-stress work environment and employee burnout, which will result in low motivation, poor work, and overworked employees.

  1. Bureaucratic

Bureaucratic leadership is characterized by a focus on following rules and working within company policy. These leaders are willing to listen to input from employees but are often rigid and will default to doing things the way they’ve been done in the past. They are also very detail-oriented, with a strong work ethic and a methodical approach to every procedure.

Why it works

Employees will appreciate the clarity and organization that the environment a bureaucratic leader creates, and this saves teams time, money, and other resources. It also focuses everyone’s job on the work itself and less on any form of favoritism.


Traditional decision-making can be beneficial, but it can also be too safe since it doesn’t push any boundaries or encourage creativity. Some risks are important to stay competitive, which isn’t a supportive mindset with this type of leadership.

  1. Transactional

Transactional leadership is characterized by a focus on rewarding employees for their work, such as rewarding a fulfillment team if they meet or exceed certain benchmarks. Managers offer frequent rewards and feedback, including big rewards like bonuses, as well as smaller rewards such as a luncheon or team parties. This style uses monitoring and rewarding behavior and assumes that this method is most effective when it comes to engaging employees.

Why it works

Transactional leadership is great for enterprise companies that need to be result focused and can easily put a system in place with clear expectations and rewards. Employees are often self-motivated and enjoy being trusted with their experience and expertise.


Sometimes, this type of setup focuses more on rewards than it does relationships within a team, which doesn’t always cultivate team collaboration or creativity since it can feel a little tit-for-tat. You also want to avoid “fear of punishment” or fear of failure mindsets so that employees don’t lose motivation.

  1. Servant

Another type of leadership is servant leadership, which is characterized by the idea that the manager is there to serve the employees. This mainly focuses on the people and the communities they come from and assumes that taking care of the people also takes care of the work. These leaders sincerely have the best interest of the team members at heart.

Why it works

This “serve first, lead second” method boosts morale and creates relationships that are founded in trust. This does positively influence employee performance and engagement, and also contributes to a great company culture.


This type of leadership can create martyrs out of managers, which isn’t actually helpful for the business or the employees. It can also be challenging for these leaders to make hard decisions or exercise authority that negatively affects their employees.

  1. Coaching

The coaching leadership style is characterized by a focus on identifying and nurturing the strengths of each team member. Leaders that use this method build strategies that focus on teamwork conduct one-on-one meetings with their team members, and provide tasks for employees to flex their skills. Coaching leaders are typically very approachable and enjoy helping their team members to reach their full potential.

Why it works

This leadership style is especially effective for new or young employees and puts a lot of emphasis on the growth of individuals, which is great for your work environment. These leaders also encourage diversity, communication well, and get high performance out of employees.


The coaching style takes a lot of time, and not all employees are open to being mentored in this manner. Not all cultures or work paces allot the time and patience required to successfully coach employees.

How to Choose Your Leadership Style

Finding a leadership style will help leaders feel more confident in these aspects. But not everyone knows what their leadership style is or should be. Think about the following points to help establish the best leadership style:

  • Know yourself.What do your patterns and behaviors reveal about your leadership?
  • Know your values.What are you unwilling to compromise on?
  • Know your strengths.Where do you shine and how can you help others succeed with that experience or skill?
  • Know your weaknesses.What are your potential pitfalls and what do you need to protect yourself and others from these weaknesses?
  • Emulate leaders you respect.Recall who you’ve worked with and how their leadership positively influenced your work. How can you be like them?
  • Try many styles.You aren’t beholden to one type of leadership style—try different approaches to learn about what works for you and your team.
  • Ask for feedback.No one is perfect and the best way to improve is to get actionable feedback, so great leaders seek out constructive criticism from others!

Leaders of an organization have a lot of pressure to make wise decisions, spend money carefully, meet deadlines, and manage their employees to be both successful and happy at their job. Knowing the different types of leadership styles will help your leaders, but there is even more you can do to help!

As leaders in your organization, HR can help alleviate stress and offer more support for all leaders at work with a wellness program. Talk to a wellbeing specialisttoday to learn more about the options available to your team members!




Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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