Common Leadership Styles and How To Find Yours

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Leadership comes in many different forms and each one will have a different impact on the way your team feel and behave in the office. So, it’s important to consider your leadership style and how you can use it to create a better working environment for everyone.

What are the 7 leadership styles?

Within business and management frameworks today, there are said to be seven leadership styles that managers can use within their teams to have a variety of different effects. These include:

  • Autocratic
  • Authoritative
  • Pacesetting
  • Democratic
  • Coaching
  • Affiliative
  • Laissez-faire

Let’s consider each leadership style and some of the effects they will have on your team. 


Autocratic leaders are those that make decisions without consideration of others’ opinions and often do so without sourcing advice from those it will impact. Consequently, decisions are made quickly by the leader, so teams can focus on completing the task. However, this approach can result in burnout amongst managers, and a team that is incapable of thinking for themselves or feels undervalued.

When to use this leadership style:

  • When making quick decisions
  • When you have experience in a situation and are confident in the correct process
  • To bring a disjointed team back together


Authoritative leaders make decisions independently but take the time to explain to their team their thought process. They provide support and guidance to help achieve an end goal and are more relaxed with what process individuals take to get there, allowing room for more creative thinking and learning opportunities. Although, if you’re the only person making the decisions, your team will only ever be as good as you.

When to use this leadership style:

  • When making quick decisions
  • When training people
  • To provide clarity and guidance
  • To help people understand their role


Pacesetting leaders are often fast and motivated with an end goal and a step-by-step plan ready to go, expecting only the best out of themselves and their team. This could result in mistakes being hidden from you for fear of not meeting performance goals and targets. However, at the right time, this leadership style can be highly motivating as people will understand what the end goal is and how to get there.

When to use this leadership style:

  • When you are introducing new procedures or projects that you and your workforce feel excited about 
  • When you need a fast turnover time for a piece of work 
  • When your team need to pick up the pace

RELATED: How do I motivate my team?


Democratic leaders are listeners. Presenting an idea to their team and taking in their opinions to work towards an end goal collaboratively. In this environment, everyone feels heard and valued, creating higher office morale. This method of managing allows the leader to make the final decision whilst making the most of their teams’ insight, allowing for creative and interesting discussions and ideas. However, waiting for everyone’s input can slow down what may have been a quick decision and some voices might get lost amongst those who are louder.

When to use this leadership style:

  • Team building
  • Reflective group discussions
  • To hear a fresh perspective on an issue

RELATED: What we can learn about team building from Rugby


Coaches are leaders who invest themselves in the progress of others, take time to build team members’ skills and present learning opportunities as often as possible. Managers who use this method will provide an end goal and guide their teams to get there, whilst allowing room for them to make mistakes and learn from them. This can be very time consuming and people that want to get on with a task may get frustrated. However, coaching can be a brilliant tool to help teams feel supported and empowered in their role.

When to use this leadership style:

  • Skill-building or training
  • To recognise areas for improvement
  • To build confidence


Affiliative leadership encourages discussion and collaboration within and across teams. This often creates a feeling of community around the office, where colleagues can feel comfortable and relaxed. Many modern offices are taking on an affiliative approach, as it focuses more on the well-being of the worker by creating a positive environment. However, it’s important to maintain boundaries with this method, as if unchecked you may find yourself letting the quality of work slip, being taken advantage of or becoming too friendly with your team which makes it difficult to give constructive criticism.

When to use this leadership style:

  • Working with different departments
  • Acknowledging people’s hard work
  • To support team members through difficult times
  • Encourage communication


Laissez-faire leaders try not to interfere with their team, trusting them to complete tasks without their guidance, and step in only to provide feedback when necessary. This method is less stressful for both parties and encourages teams to be more autonomous and creative. However, it’s important to find a balance between giving your team space to do what they do best and making sure they aren’t disengaging and abusing your trust.

When to use this leadership style:

  • To encourage creative thinking
  • When observing teams dynamics and ability to communicate and collaborate
  • To empower teams and develop trust between them and you

How to find out your style of leadership

Finding your style of leadership will allow you to understand how to use it more effectively in the workplace.

Follow these four steps to discover what type of leader you are: 

  • Recognise your current practices – How do you currently manage your team? Try completing self-assessments to help notice your current strengths and weaknesses.
  • Understand the different types of leadership-Read through the seven leadership styles and see if any fit your current practices. You might find you relate to more than one.
  • Be reflective and learn- You won’t get it perfect the first time, so recognise where you could have done better and be conscious of it moving forward.
  • Adapt  – different times call for different measures, consider the best approach for the task at hand.

Top tip: It’s important to note that you can use multiple styles within your approach to leadership, as the wise leader knows to flex from one style to another as the situation demands. Take care that there is still a level of consistency in everything you do, as total unpredictability can create tension in your office.

Why does leadership style matter?

Knowing your leadership style and understanding the pros and cons of it can lead to you being more conscious and reflective as a manager. There are many different ways to manage your team and when you are aware of this, you are more likely to learn, improve and succeed in your leadership position. 

Leaders Edge believes that understanding your style of management can lead to benefits such as: 

  • Increase employee engagement and retention
  • Improve communication; teamwork and collaboration
  • Enhance personal and team effectiveness
  • Position you as a strategic leader and an asset to the organisation
  • Better equip you to develop other leaders

A leader’s impact doesn’t just stop at their team. Good leadership can make waves in a business, including turnover, customer satisfaction, sales, revenue, productivity, and more.

RELATED: How to improve the office environment

If this article was helpful, have a look at our blog for more information on the work environment and ways that you can help make your team feel comfortable and ready to work. Or, to find the best workspace for your team, head to our website and we will help you find a home for your business and your team.

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