The Most Common Leadership Styles

Peter Foxhoven

July 7, 2022


Great leaders inspire and motivate their team by giving direction and leverage the best efforts of their team members. These individuals also earn respect and admiration from their team and peers and are constantly improving their leadership skills. Various leadership styles are covered in articles. While some may cover only a few, others are missed completely. There are also several conflicting articles on the topic, making it difficult to choose the correct style for your organization. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the differences between the styles to make the best choice.

Autocratic style

Whether in the military or business, an autocratic leader expects employees to follow rules and procedures. He is quick to make decisions, and rarely consults other team members. However, an autocratic style has some advantages in certain situations. This type of leader is highly reliable in organizations that can benefit from hierarchy. He also makes decisions quickly and can easily familiarize new team members with their roles and responsibilities.

While the autocratic style has its drawbacks, it is an excellent choice for many enterprises. Most enterprises can be led by an autocrat. However, it’s important to understand the risks of using this type of leadership style before implementing it in your organization. Although autocratic leaders have their disadvantages, they are often more accommodating with employees. You can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of autocratic leadership styles by taking an assessment, such as the What’s My Leadership Style? from HRDQ.

Transactional style

The most common leadership style is the transactional style, which maintains the status quo in an organization. This type of leader uses the hierarchy to guide employees and subordinates. The leader outlines expectations, rules, and rewards for their direct reports to meet those expectations. This type of leadership style can be difficult to balance and may result in the appearance of a non-empathetic leader. Ultimately, a good leader is empathetic, and their followers know that their leadership style is genuine.

While transactional leaders are not necessarily the worst, they lack in creativity and problem-solving skills. They promote organization and methodical approaches. The most effective leaders use elements of both styles to achieve success. Typically, the best leaders use a combination of these two styles, as well as a hybrid of both. If you’re unsure of which style you tend to use, consider the following:

Democratic style

A democratic style of leadership is a great way to involve a group of people in a decision-making process. This style encourages participation and innovative thinking. Unlike dictatorial and authoritarian leadership, democratic leadership requires many people to involve. It requires patience, knowledge, and creativity, among other things. While creative thinking comes naturally, it can be developed and improved through experience and education. In democratic organizations, people are encouraged to express their ideas without fear of repercussions.

A democratic style encourages team members to share their ideas and opinions. By allowing group members to voice their opinions, this style can lead to better ideas and solutions. It can increase engagement and team productivity by encouraging members to care about the project’s outcome. However, a democratic style is not for every situation. This type of leadership style is not appropriate for situations where group members aren’t able to contribute meaningfully. If a decision requires sensitive information to be suitable to all members of the group, then this style is not appropriate for that situation.

Paternalistic style

The paternalistic style of leadership is centered on treating subordinates like parents. Its advocates believe in treating their team as a family, focusing on personal relationships and achieving shared goals. The benefits of style of leadership include a shared respect, often based on loyalty, and the desire to feel a part of the community. However, the drawbacks of this style outweigh its advantages.

The main downside to paternalistic leadership is that it can make employees feel a great deal of dependencies and loyalty to their leader. However, the benefits of this style of leadership are well worth the risk. Employee morale can plummet because employees are not powerful with the necessary skills and autonomy to do their jobs. This style of leadership requires a careful balance between micromanagement and autonomy. In addition, it may lead to a drop in employee morale and reduce productivity.