17 Leadership Styles Examples That You Need to Know


Leadership has a very broad scope when we talk about leadership styles examples. They are all very different in the sense that there is a wide variety of these fellows ever since leadership was incepted. There are over ten different leadership styles, and one style just doesn’t suit a specific organization. Leadership in that sense is complex. Sometimes “leaders” don’t know that they are leading within the capacity of any responsible role.

In other situations, few leadership styles examples point to folks who lead by transactions. They reward you only after you have met a certain deadline. So, let’s say, you are in an office and someone has a vacation or an important personal commitment coming up, the transactional style of leader will make sure that the concerned person reaches the milestone before he gets that vacation thing.

At some point in your professional life, you will either experience these leadership responsibilities or witness such leaders. It is a matter of time and perspective. Having a good leader is a blessing. Having a bad leader is a curse. It’s just that you have to make do with both of them to meet the desired goals vs. expectations bracket.

Leadership Styles Examples:

Most of the leaders in today’s industry adapt leadership roles as they see fit. In that order, there is no specific formula which predefines a certain leadership style, or type of a leader for that matter. However, it doesn’t hurt anyone to know a thing or two about leadership before actually performing that role within any capacity.

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We will cover the following 17 Leadership Styles Examples:

The following are the common leadership styles examples that you will eventually bear witness to. Keep in mind that if you ever find yourself in the shoes of a leader, don’t forget to improvise. People like a person who is a servant, assertive, and caring.

17. Visionary Leadership

visionary leadership

So far in leadership style examples, we haven’t touched base with visionary leaders. They may not be positioned at top of the food chain, but visionary leadership is essential to growth.

As the name suggests, these leaders are motivated by the end result. They imagine a thriving business, lots of workforces, and anything that has to do with the success of the highest echelon. Don’t we all think like that when we start something new in the industry? Of course, we do.

However, visionary leaders have the tenacity to push through when times are rough. They do focus on the big picture, but they are also blessed with consistency. That’s exactly where most of the “regular visionaries” fail.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that millennials these days make up for people with robust ideas, but for a very short amount of time. Millennials want to achieve fast. They have a short attention span; any YouTube video from a make-belief next-gen millionaire is enough to swing these folks off their feet.

That’s why many people fail at being visionary leaders.

There’s no harm in focusing on the big picture. While you are at it, make sure you are aware of the setbacks, unforeseen circumstances, and adversity. Most importantly, you need to know the industry where you are about to introduce yourself.

A visionary leadership style can harbor CEOs, successful managers, and the whole lot that has to deal with long-term success.

These leaders originate from humble beginnings. Take the example of Sara Blakely. She is a leading name in the personal wellbeing market. Sara Blakely is the founder and CEO of Spanx. The company is responsible for releasing products for weight loss, personal grooming, wellbeing, etc.

Before founding ‘Spanx’, Sara used to sell fax machines and photocopiers. The door-to-door sales experience taught her the art of consistency and marketing. She knew her customers long before she cut her first pantyhose. That’s what visionary leadership is all about.

16. The Bureaucratic Leadership Style

Bureaucratic leadership styles

The bureaucratic leadership an amazing leadership style that runs on the condition that everyone plays “by the book”.

The focus of the leaders using this leadership style is on the roles within the ranks of the company and make sure that each employee of the company has fixed roles and responsibilities.

And these rules and roles might’ve been laid down decades ago, but as a true bureaucratic leader, you are bound to follow the examples of your predecessors, as they were successful using these rules.

This leadership style can be used in the areas where there is little room for flexibility and there’s a lot at stake when anything goes bad.

So, by using this leadership you can contain the situation from the first day and lead your team without any obstacles blocking progress. You can use this leadership style in departments like healthcare, government, and finance.

15. Directing Leadership

directing leadership styles

The Directing leadership style is just like the Waterfall project management methodology which makes you stay on track when everything has been decided and there’s no room for flexibility.

The leaders using this leadership style guide their team daily with a large amount of confidence and certainty because they have perfected their vision for the project, and everything related to the construction of the project has been unanimously agreed upon by all of the stakeholders connected to the project.

This leadership style is mostly used in a situation where the development team is not that experienced and they need someone to constantly supervise them and make all of the decisions while showing them the way to success.

The leader does that by defining the roles and responsibilities of the team members, and constantly monitors their activities so that they don’t get confused and lose their way.

14. Paternal & Maternal Leaders

paternal maternal leadership style

The term: Paternal refers to a male figure in a leadership position. Maternal denotes female leaders. The authority comes with their ability to play both paternal and/or maternal roles. Often, subordinates envision their leader as a leading ‘fatherly’ or ‘motherly’ figure in a company.

This concept mostly applies to family businesses that further transition to public IPOs over time. Regardless, this style of leadership focuses more on practical and ground-based work. It also enables leaders to pay devoted attention to people in a company; whatever their recommendations, and feedback are.

Paternalistic and maternalistic leadership is very progressive and successful in countries where we have a joint family system. As this style of leadership can take advantage and survives under varying conditions against odd forms of adversity, you can expect such leaders to “lead” and last for a long time.

13. Situational Leadership:

Situational leaders have a very strong intuition. Some call it a gut feeling. But once it meddles with years of experience, situational leaders can easily adapt and improvise according to changing circumstances in a tough competitive market.

Choosing the right style, making the right decision at the right time, and just being able to seize the moment is what makes situation leadership last long.

On the same note, this style of leadership is very rate. As a student, if you can work under the tutelage of one such leader, go for it. Learn from him/ her and hone your skills to help you become a better version of yourself in the market.

Overall, it is a very dynamic leadership style because you must change your behavior, address situations differently, and make decisions at the right time.

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12. Participative Leadership:

participative leadership style examples

This kind of leadership style is also known as “Facilitative leadership”. Leaders in this category not only lead, but they also offer equal participation opportunities to delegates and subordinates. Many MNCs follow participative leadership methods to get a taste of diversified ideas once any problem is underway.

Privatization and decentralization is the biggest example of this kind of leadership. This form of leadership distributes more power to people by offering them a platform for voicing their opinions.

11. Transformational Leader:

Transformational leaders normally step up the ladder once they are employed in a small position. You may have seen one or two people in the company who get promoted and acquire the responsibilities of a division head, manager, or any other senior-level post. These people are transformational leaders.

However, there’s also an element of “brown-nosing”. We also call it favoritism where a certain employee tends to stick around whenever senior management walks in. Don’t be that guy. No one likes this kind of person.

Your fellow employees will talk behind your back, and eventually, you’ll be out-casted. If you go up the rungs this way, you’re only going to be a self-proclaimed transformational leader. No one else will regard you in that capacity.

10. Transactional Leaders:

Transactional leadership was already mentioned earlier in this write-up. This is the kind of leader who sets an effort vs. rewards criterion in an organization. Normally, transactional leaders are good, but they can also get on your nerves if they start punishing people for underperforming.

The worst kind of transactional leader is a person who holds employees against their will to turn in a submission or meet a deadline for upper management’s benefit. The good thing about this style of leadership is their tenacity to get work done. They set incentives and employees feel motivated to do their best.

9. Servant Leadership:

Servant leaders are humble. They lead by example and tend to put their company and employees’ need ahead of personal agendas. These types of leaders are rare because they practice power-sharing modes of authority. A servant leader will push you to new levels of skill, responsibilities and vice versa – i.e. if he/she sees the potential in you.

In extreme cases, servant leaders are often seen as lacking authority. We think that this style of leadership is best because you are connected to your colleagues and employees. In return, your fellows reciprocate by demonstrating loyalty. However, there is a thin line where servant leaders are often undermined by employees due to conflict of interests.

If you want to avoid employees “stepping over” you, make sure that you assert and exhibit authority. They have to know that you are still a senior manager who adheres to a protocol.

In a Supermanager’s episode powered by Fellow.app, David Cancel, the CEO of Drift, defined Servant Leadership as the idea that as a manager or a leader, your job is to serve those above you… and those people above you are the individual contributors, the managers, basically the people closest to the customer.


“Great leaders understand the path to effective leadership is paved with humility, not pride.”

Servant Leadership is the style of leadership required to be effective in the workplace today.  The reason is simple, a leader is someone who inspires, empowers, and serves in order to elevate others.  Serving specifically is all about putting others’ needs ahead of your own. While that isn’t always easy, there are times when people need tough love and other times when they need an encouraging coach.

Quote By: John Eades, CEO of LearnLoft and Author of Building the Best

8. Autocratic Leadership:

leadership styles examples

This leadership is an integral part of leadership style examples. Autocratic leaders are focused on a results-oriented approach. They mostly make decisions alone. They don’t trust everyone easily, and they also expect others to be just as much passionate about work as they are. Autocratic leaders are exceptional military commanders.

However, in the business sector, this type of leader is rarely seen. The reason is attributed to different environment setup and organization structures where old school autocratic leadership methods cannot be directly applied. Since all the employees are working as civilians, they are under no obligation to follow “orders” as seen in a military setup.

An autocratic leader is best suited to an organization where policies are strict. In such companies, creativity and initiative are at an all-time low. Everyone works in a system like a robot. If you are part of such a company, we advise you to move on – unless and until you are an autocratic leader yourself!

7. Hands Off Leadership:

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. Hence the expression “hands-off leader” came into existence. These leaders are good in the sense that they are not very strict on policies. Workers define their work hours for as long as they are completing their activities and meeting the desired quota.

Laissez-Faire leaders also recognize those employees who over-deliver – and reward them accordingly. Those employees, who can work under minimum supervision, are best suited under the wings of a laissez-faire leader.

Also See:

How to Improve Teamwork Among Employees

6. Democratic Leadership:

democratic leadership style example

Another important element of leadership styles examples is the democratic leader. You all know what democracy means; what it stands for at the government level. Apply the same concept in a business environment, and you are looking at a mix of autocratic leaders and hands-off leader.

We are aware that an autocratic leader makes you cringe. But at least he’s better than a narcissistic leader because he lines up everything with clarity. A narcissistic leader will stab you in the back when you are least expecting it.

Anyhow, democratic leaders foster discussion, participation, and different creative tactics. Since they are not entirely autocratic, they encourage their fellow team members to take initiative and outperform wherever that’s possible.

5. Coaching leadership

Coach-Style leadership is an effective method of taking your team forward. This is because a coach-style leader focuses in-depth on identifying and nurturing the strengths of each and every member of their team, instead of giving the same orders to everyone.

This strategy will enable the team to work together through their own individual strengths rather than trying to do something that they are not comfortable with. Coach-Style leadership is very similar to strategic and democratic leadership, but the core focus of this strategy is to increase the growth and success of every individual employee.

When the employees are groomed using this strategy and not forced to focus on similar skills and goals, an effective team is formed where every employee has unique expertise or skillset, that can easily be used in different projects, as the leader sees fit.

A manager like this will benefit the company and also help the employees improve their individual strengths by giving them new tasks, offer them guidance, or meeting them discuss issues and offer valuable constructive criticism.

To sum it all up, coaching leadership style is about certain key traits. Some of them are appended below:

  • You can train subordinates effectively.
  • You can resolve performance-related problems.
    • If you can’t do it by yourself, you know someone who can lend support.
  • Great at improving performance.
  • Exceptional at motivating people.
  • Harness creativity in newbies.

Coaching leadership style is part of the ‘types of leadership styles’ hierarchy. These leaders are patient because they know that results are not achieved overnight. Coaching leaders are realists, as they are aware of uncertainty and adversity. But more importantly, they are prepared to overcome those setbacks to help others during the project workflow.

Also Read:

6 Ways Employees Can Prepare for Merger and Acquisition

4. Strategic leadership

strategic leadership style examples

According to Wikipedia, “Strategic leadership is the ability to influence others to voluntarily make decisions that enhance the prospects for the organization’s long-term success.”

In Laymen’s terms, Strategic leadership is a manager or a team member’s ability to charter a vision for the team and the company. When they envision the strategy, they would easily persuade the other team members to follow the same strategy with the help of the right strategies and tools.

This leadership technique easily enables the managers to create a team that is full of skill diversity, exceptionally trained and well-equipped individuals, that help the company in any normal or emergency situation.

3. Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-Faire is a French word that means ‘let them do’ and if you want to translate it into English, it’s ‘let it be’. From these meanings, you can conclude that in this leadership style, the managers or team leads delegate the responsibilities to the actual people working or the team members.

This helps the team to get the work done on their own terms as quickly as possible without any interference.

Laissez-faire leadership is the only style where the team gets the maximum amount of flexibility and scope for innovation. This style of leadership is perfect for teams that include team members who don’t team leads lording over them.

2. Charismatic leadership

This leadership style solely depends on the leader. The amount of charisma he/she has will inspire the people more, and they’ll more work effectively to please their leader and benefit the company.

Leaders like these inspire, energize and motivate the people working under them, and this technique is so successful that the Center for Association Leadership confesses that this style actually increases the team morale and push them towards success.

Not everyone is naturally charismatic, but you can learn to be more motivational and inspiring, which will help the people not just in your work life but also in your personal life.

1. Pace-Setter Leadership

Pace-Setter leadership is the one where the work is speed-oriented. The leader will push the team to get results fast. We see this leadership style in Agile work environments where the work and time deadlines are not defined, and a lot of different elements are needed to be altered in real-time.

We know that this is one of the leadership styles which seems like the people are being grilled to do more and more work without any recognition. Not true. Pacesetters do push their employees, but they do that in a way that the employees are inspired into doing more work. This actually enhances performance and individual energy levels rather than decreasing them.

Pacesetters leadership style works quite well in stock markets and sales-related organizations where numbers matter a lot and rapid action is required to diffuse the situation.

Choosing the Right Leadership Style

After going over each leadership style, you now need to decide which style is appropriate for you.

This is an important decision to make. The style you choose to adopt can influence not only how your group maintains itself, but also how it performs to reach its goals.

You need to keep in mind that when making the decision, it is not what you believe your style to be, but how your team perceives it that is important.

Multiple factors will affect your decision in the style that you choose to adopt. Some of these factors include:

  • Your personality as a leader: It is human nature to gravitate towards what is comfortable to us. Many leaders adopt a style and use it in all situations. This is because it is easier to lead a team as ourselves rather than if we were putting up a front.
  • The power you hold over your team: The amount of power you hold over your group often dictates the choice of which style is best for you. This power is largely dictated by the circumstances of your group.
  • Group maturity: This is the measurement of group growth and development. Depending on the level of dependency, growth, and development of a group your leadership style should be different.
  • Time allocated for decision making: If time is critical, it is probably wise to adopt more of an authoritative style of leadership since decision making through group involvement will be more time-consuming.
  • Member satisfaction: Having satisfied team members is important to the health of your overall team. The style of leadership you choose to adopt can have a great impact on this.

Robert House, a psychologist, developed a leadership theory called Path-Goal Theory. The theory focuses on encouraging leaders to adapt leadership styles to each team member’s unique needs.

According to House, you should be flexible in your approach rather than adopting a single style of leadership. By doing so you can adjust your style according to the person’s needs and thus experience progress.

What Kind of a Leader Are You?

In the end, the important question is what kind of leader are you? Have you ever performed as a leader in your company? If yes, we would love to hear your thoughts on this. Share your experiences through the comments section below.

By the way, this article about leadership styles examples is not yet concluded. There are many other types of leadership styles that we haven’t mentioned yet. Therefore, bookmark this post and check back in later. We will be updating it with some very interesting examples of leadership styles very soon.

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