List of leadership styles and definitions


Leadership styles are the various ways in which leaders in a social setting, such as a business or a political organization, interact with their followers and make decisions.

Typically, a leader utilizes a combination of different leadership styles depending on the situation and the goals of the organization.

Imagine you’re an employee who has just joined an organization. Your boss’s leadership style will likely be a combination of two or more of the following:

1. Autocratic leadership style

If your boss makes all the decisions on their own with no feedback from you or other employees, this is called the autocratic leadership style. Autocratic leaders don’t care about their employees at all and are only interested in performance outcomes.

2. Bureaucratic

If your organization is an old and traditional one, it’s likely that your boss’s leadership technique will be bureaucratic. Bureaucratic leaders prefer to ‘go by the book’ and expect their employees to strictly follow the rules and regulations of the organization.

3. Charismatic

If your boss has a charming personality, gives eloquent speeches, and is able to convince others of their ideas, their leadership style is charismatic. Charismatic leaders can be very motivating because they can convince their followers to believe in their goals.

4. Coach

If your boss invests a lot of time in you, guides you, helps you develop your strengths, and motivates you to work on your weaknesses, this is known as the coach leadership style. Coach-style leaders take great care of every employee and are attentive to their unique needs.

5. Democratic

If your boss asks you and your colleagues for input and feedback to aid their decision-making, this is the democratic leadership style. When employees have a say in organizational decision-making, they feel important and more connected to their organization.

6. Laissez-faire

If your boss is chill and gives you and your colleagues all the freedom you could ask for, it’s called the Laissez-faire leadership style. Laissez-faire is a French term that literally translates to “let do”. Your boss is letting you do whatever you want, however you want.

7. Negative

If your boss believes that by punishing you your productivity level will rise, this is known as the negative leadership style. Negative leaders try to dominate their followers and force them to perform.

8. Pacesetter

In this leadership style, your boss sets high standards for you and your colleagues. Pacesetter leaders are focused on performance and driving fast results for the organization.

9. Paternalistic

When your boss is like a father figure to you and your colleagues, it is the paternalistic leadership technique in action. Paternalistic leaders take care of their followers just as a parent would, protecting and nurturing them. They earn their followers’ loyalty in return.

10. Positive

When your boss motivates you with rewards such as financial rewards, education, or new experiences, this makes them a positive leader. A positive leader is the opposite of a negative leader.

11. Servant

When your boss acts like your servant and places your need before everything else. Servant leadership style works because it satisfies people. Satisfied people are more likely to perform well. Leaders who put their followers first gain respect.

12. Strategic

When your boss plays a key role in growing the organization and moving it forward, this is called the strategic leadership style. Strategic leaders actively look for growth opportunities whilst keeping the organization’s current activities stable.

13. Supportive

If your boss not only supervises you but also gives you all the support you need, this is known as the supportive leadership style. Supportive leaders help employees solve problems and develop skills so that the latter can solve problems on their own.

14. Transactional

When your boss focuses on nothing but your performance, gives you incentives for success, and punishes you for failure, this is called the transactional leadership style. This leadership technique is a combination of positive and negative leadership styles.

15. Transformational

When your boss is focused on motivating you to set and achieve organizational goals, this is called the transformational leadership style.

Transformational leaders seek to transform the organization, not only its day-to-day functioning but also the thought process and core values of its members.

16. Visionary

If your boss is innovative and encourages new ideas, this is called the visionary leadership style. Visionary leaders are not loath to disrupt the status quo if it means the organization is going to grow by leaps and bounds.

Personality and leadership technique

It is important that the personality of a leader matches what the organization is trying to achieve. The most desirable personality trait of leaders is their ability to change their leadership styles and techniques according to the needs of the organization.

An organization is, after all, a dynamic entity and a leadership style that worked in the past may not necessarily work in the future.