Common leadership styles and how to develop your style


Christoffer Hansen

What type of leader are you?

Maybe you are leading a project, team, or an entire department. Whatever your leadership capacity looks like, you might identify or adapt to a specific leadership style. As you develop your skills as a leader, you might realize that you use different styles depending on the circumstances and that there are areas that you can improve on and develop. Maybe there are better ways to lead to serve the company goal and understand how others in the organization lead.


Identify and nurture each member‘s strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. It is useful in setting expectations for each team member, creating a positive work environment, and making the teamwork better together through communication and unique skill sets. Optimistic in nature and promotes the development of new skills, create a confident company culture. The coaching leadership style is underutilized since it is more time–consuming than other leadership styles since it acquires one-on-one time with each team member. Focus is on the growth and success of individuals.

A coaching leader trait:

• Supportive

• Guide instead of commands

• Value learning as a way of growing

• Ask guided questions

• Balance knowledge and helping others to find it themselves

• Self-aware


Drive progress and change by inspiring team members and earning trust for new ideas—the coach fosters confidence for direct reports and colleagues. The visionary is excellent for small, growing organizations or organizations that are in a phase of restructuring. They help companies grow and innovate technology and practices.

The visionary is characterized by:

• Persistent

• Strategic

• Risk–taker

• Inspirational

• Optimistic

• Innovative


Focus on employee satisfaction and collaboration with a people–first mindset. The servant builds on employee morale and engages their work. Create employee loyalty and productivity and are great for non-profit organizations.

The servant:

• Motivate team members

• Great communication skills

• Care about the team

• Encourage collaboration and engagement


Focused on results and efficiency. The autocratic leader makes decisions on their own or with a trusted few without any input from employees. Expect employees to do what they are told. This style can be beneficial for organizations with strict guidelines or to manage employees with little to no experience. The autocratic leader can also boost productivity and reduce stress for employees by deciding for them; however, the autocratic is rarely effective, and organizations with this leadership style tend to lose employees.

The autocrat is:

• Self-confident

• Self-motivated

• Clear and concise

• Follow rules

• Dependable

• Value high structure

• Believe in supervised work

LAISSEZ-FAIRE (hands–off)

Delegates tasks to the team and leave them to it. This leadership style works for organizations with experienced team members that are independent workers. Laissez-faire promotes accountability, creativity, and employee retention. They give full trust in their employees while they focus on running the company.

The laissez-fare:

• Delegator

• Believe in freedom of choice

• Provide resources and tools

• Offer constructive criticism

• Promote an autonomous environment


Before making a decision, the democratic leader asks for feedback and input from their team. When employees feel that their voices are heard and matter, it fosters higher employee engagement and satisfaction. The democratic leadership style is effective in creative businesses such as tech industries since it drives discussion and participation.


The democratic leader:

• Value discussion

• Involve the team in decision making

• Encourage idea sharing

• Rational and flexible

• Good at mediation


The most effective leadership style for driving fast results. The pacesetter is focused on performance and set high standards and hold their team accountable for hitting goals. It is excellent in high paced settings where they motivate and help the team. Focus their team on hitting goals and accomplish objectives. High energy and dynamic work environments.

The pacesetter:

• Set the bar high

• Focus on goals

• Highly competent

• Value performance

• Slow to praise


Focus on clear communication, goals, and employee motivation. Thrive on transforming and improving the company practices. Organizational objectives and the big picture drive the transformational leader. The transformational leader is great for teams that handle tasks without supervision, and they push their team out of their comfort zone.

The transformational leader:

• Mutual respect with the team

• Encouraging

• Inspire others to reach their goals

• Sees the big picture

• Intellectually challenge their team

• Creative

• Understand organizational needs


Value performance. The transactional leader establishes an incentive plan, such as a monetary reward for success and disciplinary action for failure that motivates team members to work toward the goal. Also, focus on mentorship, instruction, and training to achieve goals. Great for sales organizations that have revenue targets to hit.

The transactional leader:

• Value corporate structure

• Micromanage

• Don‘t question authority

• Pragmatic

• Value goal hitting

• Reactionary


Do everything by the books and expect their team to as well. Focused on duties, and each employee has a set of responsibilities. There is no room for creativity and collaboration; employee feedback is ignored if it does not fit the company practices or policies. Best suited for finance, healthcare, and government organizations that have strict rules and regulations.

A bureaucratic leader:

• Detail–oriented and task–focused

• Values rules and structure

• Great work ethic

• Strong–willed

• Committed to the organization

• Self-disciplined


In your journey to finding your leadership style, it is essential to choose an authentic style for you and know what style works for each situation. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine which style works for you:

  1. What do I value more? Goals or relationships?
  2. Do I believe in structure or freedom of choice?
  3. Would I rather make decisions by myself or with the team?
  4. Do I focus on short or long-term goals?
  5. Does motivation come from empowerment or direction?
  6. What does a healthy team dynamic look like to me?


Experiment – Try different approaches in different circumstances

Find a mentor – Speaking with an experienced leader provides great insight into how they developed their style

Ask for feedback – Feedback helps you grow into a successful leader

Be authentic – Choose a leadership style that fits in with your strengths and improve it.


In the search for your leadership style, it is important to stay authentic to who you are and your strengths. In actuality, the best leadership uses a mix of all leadership styles. It is good to know when and what style to utilize, depending on the circumstances. You may find that you excel in project management using one leadership style but must adjust your style when leading an entire department.

If you want to learn more about Leadership styles and how to develop your own, feel free to reach out to us at Hanei Consulting Group.

About us

We are a team of independent professionals from diverse backgrounds who want to make consulting simple. We have extensive experience from strategy- and technology consulting firms, start-ups, and corporations, where we have solved problems in 50+ countries – from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. We are the architects of your growth.