The 4 Types Of Leadership Styles

Last updated on May 29th, 2024 at 10:32 am

Leadership comes in many styles depending on several factors. Here are 4 types of leadership styles that are prevalent, especially in business.

Leadership goes beyond being a senior or having an executive title or position.

Decision-making and enforcement to get the job done define leadership while exuding habits of strong mental leadership.

Leadership is present at every level of society providing direction, guidance, inspiration, motivation, and clarity.

In this article, we are going to examine the types of leadership styles, their roles, and how they work.

Related: Cultivating Leadership with Self-awareness

The 4 types of leadership styles

In 1939, Kurt Lewin, the renowned German-American psychologist initially branded three leadership styles with their research of tasking schoolchildren on crafts and art projects while observing their behaviours and attitudes to different styles of leadership.

The original idea was to identify which style would be most effective in business. Three styles were identified by Lewin, autocratic, democratic, and, laissez-faire leadership styles.

However, with time, more styles of leadership were discovered, including transformational leadership.

But we are going to focus on just these types of leadership styles:

  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Laissez-faire
  • Transformational

Autocratic or authoritative leadership style

Autocratic leadership as one of the types of leadership styles is also known as authoritarian leadership and it is characterized by command of the leaders. You must do as you are told without questions.

The autocratic leader, a singular figure has absolute control of decisions and does as he wishes. He is commanding, and decisive and has the burden of delegating tasks.

He is responsible for policies, procedures, and strategies and dictates to the subordinates.

Authoritarian leaders do not care about collaboration nor do they expect feedback. They are mostly highhanded and enjoy absolute power.

Related: Quiet Leadership: The Power Of Being A Silent Leader

Autocratic leaders often believe that they know what is best for the organization and are focused on achieving their goals, regardless of the opinions or feelings of others.

They may use fear, coercion, or punishment to motivate employees to follow their directives, and may be less concerned with building or developing their team members’ skills.

While autocratic leadership is effective in certain situations such as in crisis management, it can lead to dissatisfaction, low morale, and high staff turnover.

Employees feel alienated from decision-making and lack opportunities for input and development.

Read more about autocracy in leadership.

Democratic or participative leadership style

Democratic or participative leadership is one of the types of leadership style that is more liberal and makes use of subordinates as team members.

Everyone has a chance to participate and contribute to the process of making decisions. The leaders in this leadership style are still the spearheads, but they allow more room for the subordinates to exercise their positions.

One remarkable point about this kind of leadership is that it creates more leaders and promotes creativity among the subordinates.

Related: Reward Power: The Art Of Using Rewards For Motivation

Democratic leaders often demonstrate transformative leadership style, and individual growth, and emphasize the importance of cultivating new leadership within their members.

They understand that the key to success is to cultivate a culture of leadership within the organization, giving the team opportunities to learn new skills and take on new challenges.

By incorporating’s opinions and ideas into the decision-making process, democratic leadership can improve employee engagement and job.

Since democratic leaders value the input of employees, workers feel valued, respected, and empowered in their duties.

High levels of employee engagement lead to increased morale, productivity, and innovation, leading to the overall success of the organization

Read a comprehensive article about democratic leadership.

Related: Becoming a Leader in Relationships

Laissez-faire leadership style

This type of leadership might seem a carefree one, but it is not. Laissez-faire leadership style is a hands-off leadership where the leader trusts his subordinates enough to allow them to run the organization or institution.

The leaders leave decisions to their subordinates and receive feedback from the background to avoid leadership failure.

Most leaders who use this style of leadership have their hands tied with other businesses or are not knowledgeable enough to run the institution.

Learn more about the Laissez-faire type of leadership.

Transformational leadership style

As the name suggests, the transformational leadership style has to do with having a great vision and having employees bring it alive.

In this type of leadership style, the subordinates are eager and motivated to transform the idea while also evolving personally as professionals.

Employees under a transformational leader are united in the cause while aligning with the leader.

The main focus of transformational leadership is sharpening others to help each other while uplifting the organization.

A transformational leader is admired and respected by his subordinates. This brings about natural loyalty and the willingness to put in more hard work to please the leader.

More on transformational type of leadership.


These 4 types of leadership styles are the most popular styles of leadership, especially in business and all other styles emanate from them.

These styles are mostly influenced by many factors depending on the personality of the leader.

For instance, in autocratic leadership, the underlying factors are always greed, illiteracy, and distrust of employees.

Since leadership is all about getting the work done, people tend to use the type of leadership style that works for them.


  1. Leadership Styles
  2. Leadership Styles: Four Common Types In Business
  3. How to Discover Your Leadership Style
The Conducts Of Life | | Website | + posts

Pious Clements is the insightful voice behind "The Conducts of Life" blog, where he writes about life ethics, self-development, life mastery, and the dynamics of people and society.

With a profound understanding of human behaviuor and societal dynamics, Pious offers thought-provoking perspectives on ethical living and personal growth.
Through engaging narratives and astute observations, he inspires readers to navigate life's complexities with wisdom and integrity, encouraging a deeper understanding of the human experience and our place within society.