The 5 leadership styles you can use


Throughout history, great leaders have emerged with particular leadership styles in providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people. These can be broadly grouped into 5 different categories:

  • Authoritarian Leadership
  • Participative Leadership
  • Delegative Leadership
  • Transactional Leadership
  • Transformational Leadership

Despite these definitions, questions still remain.

  • What is the meaning of each leadership style mentioned above?
  • What is the difference between the different leadership approaches?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using each of the leadership styles?

By reading this article, you will discover more about the 5 leadership styles, along with their definitions, advantages and disadvantages. Each of the leadership styles will also be differentiated.

5 Leadership Styles You Can Use

1. Authoritarian Leadership

Authoritarian leadership styles allow a leader to impose expectations and define outcomes. A one-person show can turn out to be successful in situations when a leader is the most knowledgeable in the team. Although this is an efficient strategy in time-constrained periods, creativity will be sacrificed since input from the team is limited.  The authoritarian leadership style is also used when team members need clear guidelines.


  • Time spent on making crucial decisions can be reduced.
  • Chain of command can be clearly emphasized.
  • Mistakes in the implementation of plans can be reduced.
  • Using authoritarian leadership style creates consistent results.


  • A very strict leadership style can sometimes lead to employee rebellion.
  • It kills employee creativity and innovation.
  • It reduces group synergy & collaboration.
  • Group input is reduced dramatically.
  • Authoritarian leadership increases employee turnover rate.


2. Participative Leadership 

Participative leadership styles are rooted in democratic theory. The essence is to involve team members in the decision making process. Team members thus feel included, engaged and motivated to contribute. The leader will normally have the last word in the decision-making processes. However, if there are disagreements within a group, it can be a time-consuming process to reach a consensus.


  • It increases employee motivation and job satisfaction.
  • It encourages use of employee creativity.
  • A participative leadership style helps in the creation of a strong team.
  • High level of productivity can be achieved.


  • Decision-making processes become time-consuming.
  • Leaders have a high probability of being apologetic to employees.
  • Communication failures can sometimes happen.
  • Security issues can arise because of transparency in information sharing.
  • Poor decisions can be made if the employees are unskilled.


3. Delegative leadership

Also known as "laissez-faire leadership", a delegative leadership style focuses on delegating initiative to team members. This can be a successful strategy if team members are competent, take responsibility and prefer engaging in individual work. However, disagreements among the members may split and divide a group, leading to poor motivation and low morale.


  • Experienced employees can take advantage of their competence and experience.
  • Innovation & creativity is highly valued.
  • Delegative leadership creates a positive work environment.


  • Command responsibility is not properly defined.
  • Delegative leadership creates difficulty in adapting to change.
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4. Transactional leadership

Transactional leadership styles use "transactions" between a leader and his or her followers - rewards, punishments and other exchanges - to get the job done. The leader sets clear goals, and team members know how they'll be rewarded for their compliance. This "give and take" leadership style is more concerned with following established routines and procedures in an efficient manner, than with making any transformational changes to an organization.


  • Leaders create specific, measurable and time-bound goals that are achievable for employees.
  • Employee motivation and productivity is increased.
  • Transactional leadership eliminates or minimizes confusion in the chain of command.
  • It creates a system that is easy to implement for leaders and easy to follow by employees.
  • Employees can choose reward systems.


  • Innovation & creativity is minimized.
  • Empathy is not valued.
  • Transactional leadership creates more followers than leaders among employees.


5. Transformational Leadership

In transformational leadership styles, the leader inspires his or her followers with a vision and then encourages and empowers them to achieve it. The leader also serves as a role model for the vision.


  • It leads to a lower employee turnover rate.
  • Transformational leadership places high value on corporate vision.
  • High morale of employees is often experienced.
  • It uses motivation and inspiration to gain the support of employees.
  • It is not a coercive approach to leadership.
  • It places high value on relationships.


  • Leaders can deceive employees.
  • Consistent motivation and constant feedback may be required.
  • Tasks can’t be pushed through without the agreement of employees.
  • Transformational leadership can sometimes lead to the deviation of protocols and regulations.

Developing Your Own Leadership Style

It is important to recognize and understand different leadership styles including the situations in which they work best. However, you are unlikely to be a successful business leader simply by mimicking these. Leadership is not about providing a certain response in a certain situation. It's about using your natural leadership strengths in an authentic manner to inspire and motivate others.

Leadership Styles

Leadership training from a good business school can help you to understand and strengthen your own leadership style. Good leadership courses teach you the dynamics of human behavior as well as raise self-awareness and provide the chance to practise leadership in different situations. Depending on the level, such courses can also include training on business and/or strategic leadership.

Leadership coaching is another way to identify your leadership strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, the best leadership courses include personal leadership coaching for even greater impact on developing authentic and effective leadership styles.

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