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- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
5 min read
By Lisa Teh

Different leadership styles: Which do you possess?


When it comes to business there are many different leadership styles that you can use to lead your team. As you continue reading, you may find that you are strictly one, or that you move between multiple depending on the situation at hand. Which leadership style is advantageous in one situation, but detrimental in another? What industries work best with democratic leaders in charge? What won’t work if you consider yourself autocratic? We’ll answer all these questions as we break down each leadership style.


A democratic leader is someone who invites others from the organisation or team to contribute to the decision-making process. Compared to other leadership styles, they are more comfortable opening the floor to other ideas and feedback. Once all ideas are discussed, a decision will be made via the majority rule.

With this leadership style, decisions are made not only by the leader but the employees as well. Whilst democratic leadership gives everyone a fair vote, it does not work well in emergency situations where decisions need to be made quickly without argument. Democratic leadership does however benefit the team structures found in creative and healthcare industries.


In autocratic leadership, what the leader says goes and there is no ideas or input provided by employees. The leader has the authority to implement ideas and policies at the trust of their own judgement. It does not work well for teams and projects that require creativity and discussion.

Autocratic leadership is most effective in small groups and within emergency situations. It is commonly seen in government, hospitality, and defence industries, all of which have certain expectations that need to be met with no room for error.


Although appearing dominant, a paternalistic leader treats their employees like family and highly regards loyalty and trust. Paternalistic leaders expect their employees to be obedient and are considered decisive, empowering, and influential. They share many similarities to an autocratic leader, but tend to be more lenient. Certain industries like finance, public administration, and healthcare benefit from this style of leadership.


In comparison to the three mentioned above, this style of leadership is more laid back. Laissez-faire leaders place trust and reliance in their employees and believe their team have the capability to get tasks done with little to no guidance.

A laissez-faire leader does not micromanage but will provide guidance to their employees when needed. While they may be the de facto leader, decisions are mostly made by their employees. That is not to say however that a laissez-faire leader does not have authority and the final say over critical matters.

A laissez-faire leadership style works well in startup companies, design firms, and advertising agencies. Any industries that encourage growth and creativity will benefit from this kind of leadership.


A transactional leader is often seen as the default leadership type in the workplace. To put it simply, good work is rewarded and poor work is punished. It is the go-to for those in middle management who focus on group performance and organisation. Transactional leaders believe that a solid structure is necessary for a business to run smoothly.

Industries that benefit from transactional leadership include the military, professional sports, and large international corporations. This type of leadership is simple and straightforward.


A diplomatic leader is one who leads a workplace where people get what they need. In other words, diplomatic leaders negotiate well and are willing to listen to a person’s wishes and wants. This type of leader is aware that good negotiation results in both sides getting what they want but they don’t allow the scale to tip in either person’s favour. As a result, diplomatic leaders are great at solving conflict by speaking to the other side and proposing a solution that benefits both parties. This kind of leadership style is seen across all industries.


One of the most obvious features of a bureaucratic relationship is the structure or chain of command. This chain of command is strictly followed and consists of people who follow the orders and regulations given by the top of the chain. Bureaucratic leadership is often found in the military or government where there is a chain of command based on rank.


Transformational leaders inspire and encourage employees to be creative and provide new ideas. Their goal is to successfully inspire positive change. The technological industry is well known for producing transformational leaders. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are two examples of those who utilise this type of leadership style.

Final Thoughts

What leadership style are you drawn to? Imagine yourself in a leadership position right now and think about the different scenarios you would face. How would you handle them? This is a great question to start thinking about which leadership style you are most comfortable with.

About the author


Co-Founder of Lisnic 🌏 Founder of CODI Agency (Digital Marketing)📱
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