Subject: What Kind of Leader Are You? The 8 Most Common Leadership Styles

Hi Friend,

Every leader has a distinct style of leadership that helps to differentiate that person from other leaders. In an article on HubSpot by Braden Becker, he discusses unique leadership styles, what they are, how they differ and their relative effectiveness. Leaders would be keen to figure out where they fall on this list, and determine if is it where they truly want to be.

  1. Democratic Leadership

  2. Autocratic Leadership

  3. Laissez-Faire Leadership

  4. Strategic Leadership

  5. Transformational Leadership

  6. Transactional Leadership

  7. Coach-Style Leadership

  8. Bureaucratic Leadership

Democratic Leadership

This type of leader gives everyone an equal say on a project and lets the group come to consensus about how to proceed. While the leader may still be ultimately accountable, everyone gets equal input, regardless of title or rank. Decisions are made as a group and the leader acts as a guide to ensure everything stays on track.

Team members often enjoy a democratic leader because they feel their opinions and thoughts carry weight within the group. It fosters a true sense of collaboration.

Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership can be considered the antithesis to democratic leadership. The leader maintains and exerts all the power, having complete control and asking for no input. The autocratic leader will create the idea, the strategy and the timeframe, then expect direct reports to execute these orders.

There is no room for collaboration or opinion. Because of that, it’s a very unpopular leadership style that can likely lead to high turnover and increased employee disengagement.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

This type of leader allows workers to call the shots. Imagine how a startup tech company may operate. Let’s say the work is all remote. Perhaps this type of leader lets workers do the jobs where and how they want, allowing the team to do their jobs when they are most effective, so as not to stifle creativity.

This type of leadership can certainly be appreciated by employees who don’t need a lot of supervision or clarification on job duties, but it can be difficult for those who prefer to be very interactive and involved with their leaders. This leadership style also has the potential to leave a lot of innovation on the table, if employees aren’t pushed to achieve more.

Strategic Leadership

A strategic leader is at the intersection of upper management and the workforce. They have a key role in shaping the future of the company while still providing support for members of the staff. This leader is charged with moving the company forward while trying to meet the needs and wants of the workforce.

Having a strategic leader can be valuable to the company as long as the leader does not get spread too thin. The leader needs to find a balance between creating and moving their vision forward while ensuring direct reports have what they need to succeed.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
 —John Quincy Adams

Transformational Leadership

Often found within growth-minded companies, the transformational leader is always trying to move things forward and change things up. This leader is looking to get the most out of the workforce, pushing their limits and helping them to learn and excel at new skills with regularity.

Naturally, if a worker doesn’t respond well to this form of leadership, they can feel under pressure and full of stress throughout their workday. This type of leadership can only be successful with workers that respond positively to this type of aggressive and ever-changing leadership.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership focuses on the specific work accomplished by the employee. Think about a sales organization. A transactional leader may set up a bonus program for salespeople that make 100 calls in a week. The job description is clearly spelled out and the workers either meet, or fail to meet, the tasks prescribed for them.

This type of management does not include much input from workers; it’s more beneficial for operations where having a team of “worker bees” suits the company’s purpose. Roles and responsibilities are more clearly determined through this type of leadership. Creative types and those seeking to play a role in company strategy will likely not thrive in this setting.

Coach-Style Leadership

The leader who coaches tends to put emphasis on the growth and development of the employee. This leader looks for strengths of each team member and finds ways to maximize those strengths for the company’s benefit.

This leadership style allows certain talents within the team to flourish; it’s anything but cookie-cutter. Each staff member may have unique roles that are built around their individual strengths. Think of a football coach; he will have different expectations from his quarterback than from his kicker or offensive tackle. It works the same way in business. Someone may be a great writer while someone else may excel at data analysis, but chances are, the same person will not excel at both skills.

Bureaucratic Leadership

An innovation killer, bureaucratic leaders operate strictly by the book. They allow little to no flexibility for ideas that stray from the company line. While this leader may at least be receptive to hearing ideas, unlike the autocratic leader, they will dismiss the idea once it conflicts with the company’s way of operating.

Think of the last time you went to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Did it feel like there was any flexibility in how that experience went? Or, the last time you were pulled over for a traffic infraction. Did the police officer want to discuss reason why you might have been exceeding the speed limit? It can be the same way in a workplace with a bureaucratic leader. Workers who are fine with coming in and doing the same things day in and day out may be fine in this environment. Innovators and those looking to learn, grow and experience new things won’t last long in this setting.


If you are a leader, where do you fall within this list? Are you where you truly wish you were? If not, what do you need to do to get there?

If you’re a team member, in which category does your manager reside? More importantly, for what type of leader would you most prefer to work? If you are unhappy in your current work state, working for a leader who doesn’t fit your preferred style might be a leading reason why.

Have a great week!

Steve Porcaro

Chief Inspiration Officer

SalesPlus MVP Coaching & Training


Performance Coach for Mid-Career Medical Device Sales Leaders & Teams
 Career, Business & Professional Development | Veteran & Military Dad | Host of "Unlock Your Potential with Clarity, Confidence & Courage" Podcast


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