Effective leadership styles positively influence the performance of individuals, teams, and organizations. However, no one style suits all. What works for you may not work for someone else, even if you work in similar roles. Your personality, skills, and experience shape how you perceive and respond to the different styles of leadership.

So, the most effective leaders recognize, align, and adapt the style best suited to them and those they lead. The right leadership style has far-ranging effects. It can help improve company culture, productivity, and retention rates. In contrast, the wrong choice can reduce efficiency, engagement, and organization.

An Updated Review of the Types of Leadership Styles

This article examines leadership styles common in management. It discusses what they are and how the different approaches vary. Through review, you will begin to identify the styles best aligned with your personality, aptitude, role, and career goals. Once you determine this, you can leverage your strengths and develop areas for improvement to become more effective using your best-fit leadership style.

Your Current Approach to Leadership

Leadership styles are set patterns of behaviors and actions. You exhibit these as you direct, motivate, and help guide those you lead toward a common goal. If asked, how would you sum up your current style? 

Many leaders find it difficult to articulate their specific approach to leadership without spending some time in thought. You may want to reflect on your current approach if you’re unsure. The lists below summarize effective and ineffective leadership styles. Consider each column objectively as you contemplate how they compare to your own approach.

Employee satisfaction and engagement
High team performance
Positive feedback from stakeholders
Low turnover rates
Low workplace morale
Subpar performance and productivity
Change resistance
High turnover rates

The ever-changing workplace means there’s no finish line or graduation when it comes to leadership training. There is always room for improvement and a need to continue growing as a leader at every level, from first-line managers to executives.

3 Factors that Shape Leadership Styles


Personality, roles and responsibilities, and career aspirations shape leaders. Knowing how these work together will help you decide which leadership style is best suited to you. Indeed, increasing your self-awareness makes it easier to adapt and improve your leadership techniques and drive success.

#1 Personality Traits

We can’t always see ourselves how others see us. Personality assessments help identify how a person’s disposition and mannerisms influence how they lead. There are many assessments for gaining helpful insight into your personality traits, preferences, and tendencies. The two most well-known personality assessments are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and the Big Five Personality Traits.

Why Personality Matters in Leadership

Personality shapes how you approach leadership, communicate with others, and make decisions. It also influences your ability to motivate and inspire people. But you can’t change the pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors until you know what they are. It’s why standout leaders are self-aware of their personality traits and character flaws. [1] [2]

#2 Roles & Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities influence one’s style of leadership. Your position and duties shape expectations, demands, and the context in which you operate. Being mindful of these factors helps you adjust your style when needed to produce results. 

Examine how your roles and responsibilities influence your current approach. Areas to be conscious of are how you communicate, clarify expectations, delegate tasks, and strive to build trust with your team.

#3 Career Aspirations, Preparing for Advancement

Having clear career goals significantly influences your natural inclination for certain leadership styles. Emerging leaders—in particular—are continually preparing for the next level of their career’s advancement. This mindset sways focus, priorities, and interactions. Career plans that align with an employee’s leadership style, company culture, and team dynamics tend to materialize faster.

Find Your Leadership Styles

Your personality is a major factor in your approach to leadership. It often drives your interpersonal communication and your expectations for followers. But, it’s also possible to transform your current leadership style to become more effective by engaging in self-reflection, feedback from others, and personality assessments. 

Determining what changes you need to make in your leadership style to be more effective is heavily-influenced by your current role and future career plans. This section looks at the most common leadership styles, their influence, and what type might be better for your current and future leadership roles.

#1 Unleash the Power of Transformational Leadership

We begin with transformational leadership. This style is critical for companies competing in the new American workplace. Transformational leaders are pivotal for organizations adjusting to rapid changes, innovations, and a shrinking talent pool. It’s a leadership style that focuses on aligning the post-pandemic workforce with organization needs by seeking to create a shared vision and inspire your team. 

Organizations struggling to attract and retain skilled workers need transformational leaders. They know how to promote creativity, collaboration, and adaptability; key indicators the best talent are looking for in an employer. These leaders support diversity and inclusion by promoting cultures of respect, empathy, and understanding. The strong emphasis on individual employee development and growth differentiates this style from others. That matters when there are more job openings than quality people to fill them. [3]

Higher employee engagement
Greater creativity and innovation 
Increased trust in leadership
Potential for unrealistic expectations
Potential dependency on leaders for inspiration
Potential for employee burnout

Suits: Leaders who are charismatic, visionary, and inspirational. They have strong emotional intelligence, empathy, and a genuine desire to build a highly productive workforce to turn their shared vision into a reality.

Accountable Leadership Development for the New American Workplace

Are you in your early- or mid-career phase? EWF Emerging Leaders Program is designed to help supercharge your business acumen. Our rigorous curriculum teaches you how to make better-informed strategic decisions and supercharge your leadership competencies.

Learn How EWF’s Emerging Leaders Program Supports Personal and Company Growth

Other Leadership Styles, Pros, and Cons


Transformational leaders are now the most sought-after. But some firms have cultures, goals, and conditions that fare better using different leadership styles. Below are other common leadership styles to consider.

2. Democratic Leadership Styles

Democratic leaders value their team’s input in decision-making processes. You still have the final say as the leader, but group input often guides your decisions. This style can potentially foster creativity and better engagement from individuals and teams because they feel like they have input on leadership decisions. [4]

Increased buy-in and commitment
More diverse perspectives/ideas
Lower levels of workplace stress 
Decision processes take more time 
Needs trust; difficult to implement
Potential for indecisiveness

Suits: Leaders good at listening and discussion, who engender equal collaboration and inclusivity with their teams.

3. Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership is the opposite of the democratic approach discussed above. This style sees a leader with singular control over most decision-making. This leadership style focuses on a “do as I say” methodology where individuals and teams must adhere to management choices without question.

Useful for making rapid decisions 
Clear direction
Efficient use of time and resources
Accountability; no room for shifting blame
Demotivating for employees 
Poor teamwork
Little feedback

Suits: Confident leaders with specialized knowledge or expertise. They have a clear gameplan for their team/organization and can make independent decisions on the fly and quickly implement changes.

4. Laissez-faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leadership is looser style of leadership compared to others. These leaders offer less direction and guidance to individuals or teams, preferring they iterate processes to make them more effective and efficient. This style works best with highly skilled, self-motivated workers who operate well with minimal direct supervision.

Increased team creativity/innovation
Job satisfaction and motivation
Collaborative problem-solving
High retention rates
Absence of clear direction
Lack of accountability
Limited feedback
Requires motivated and skilled talent

Suits: Leaders who value independence, creativity, and individual autonomy. They work well with highly skilled, self-motivated teams who need minimal oversight.

5. Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership serves as a link between an organization’s senior executives and its employees. Leaders who assume this style prioritize the balance of company executive interests and their team’s wellbeing when making decisions.

Teamwork between departments
Clear direction
Facilitates unity
Reduced risk of conflict
Tendency to micromanage
Time-consuming decisions
More prone to risk aversion
Resistance to change

Suits: Future-oriented, analytical leaders who can think critically and creatively. They can focus on long-term goals and are skilled at strategic planning and decision-making.

6. Transactional Leadership


Transactional leadership is a popular style with clear direction, goals, and expectations. There are reward incentives for achievement and penalties for failure. It’s a style that focuses on maintaining the status quo and seeks to improve efficiency rather than make sweeping changes.

Clear expectations
Set procedures improve efficiency
Predictable outcomes
Motivational rewards
Status quo limits creativity 
Confines employee engagement
Short-term focus
Rigid rules result in less flexibility

Suits: A transactional leader is well-organized, pragmatic, decisive, and performance-driven. They manage stable, predictable environments with well-defined tasks and goals.

Early- To Mid-Career Leadership Development

Equip and empower your early- and mid-career leaders with EWF’s curriculum-based leadership development training. Our proven leadership skills program helps your rising talent prepare for promotion, deliver the best results, and shatter new barriers.

Learn More About EWF’s Proven Leadership Training Programs

7. Coach-Style Leadership

Coaching leadership guides and supports workers in achieving their goals. Thus, these leaders help individuals and teams focus on personal and professional growth. They are active listeners, offer constructive feedback, and strive to empower those under them.

Increased employee engagement
Improves worker performance
Helps build trust and rapport
Coaching offers long-term focus
Coaching takes time
Potential for overreliance on leaders
Difficult to measure/evaluate success 
Not suitable for all workers

Suits: Coaching leaders are empathetic, patient, communicative, supportive, and skilled at developing others. This style suits those with acute self-awareness and a growth mindset.

8. Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leadership is a style that relies heavily on rules, policies, and procedures to manage teams. It emphasizes established protocols and maintains hierarchy, forming a highly structured and formalized work environment.

Clear roles & responsibilities
Dependable decision-making
Efficient, effective use of resources
Stable, predictable work environment
Lacks creativity/innovation
Resistance to change
Bureaucracy slows decision-making
Limits employee engagement

Suits: Bureaucratic leaders like structure and rules and thrive under formality, protocol, and regulation. They are conscientious, risk-averse, and process-focused.

Closing Thoughts on Leadership Styles

What is your current leadership style? Upon review, how well does your leadership style fit your personality and the role you’re performing? What about five years down your career path? 

Understand the leadership style you have right now will provide insight to what you need to work on to improve your approach. Get it right, and you will develop a leadership approach that works well for you and prepares your for future leadership roles while inspiring and motivating those you lead.

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/personality-and-leadership/
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/personality-and-transformational-leadership/
  3. https://www.emerald.com/leaders-must-become-more-more transformational/
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/democratic-leadership-impact/