Leadership, and types of leadership.

Leadership is a very important topic in today’s world, and understanding the various types of leadership ensures we grasp the various types of leadership, their personality traits, their effectiveness as well as their different limitations.

From a contemporary and historical perspective, the proper development and knowledge about leadership serve as the fundamental core of growth and innovation in every sphere of our environment. Leadership has for long been described as the driver of economy and life, yet, there are limitations and misconceptions that must be continuously addressed and acknowledged. Napoleon Hill suggested that since leadership is a vital futuristic component for growth, it is necessary to develop leaders that can lead effectively and create about desired changes. The need for proper knowledge and evolution of leadership is due to the fact that all components of our environment need effective and trustworthy leaders that would pivot the affairs of an organization, body or sector.

From all indications, leadership is an important element of today’s world, and everyone in their various capacities is a leader. To lead effectively, it is paramount to always evolve and understand environmental dynamics and how to tackle different problems. To evolve, leaders must be students for life, always learning and innovating. The emerging paradigms suggest that the leadership journey should be educative. Evolving involves proper knowledge about different leadership styles, understanding the characteristics of the types of leadership enables an individual to evaluate their strengths and weakness in a bid to bridge the weaknesses identified. 

There are different factors that characterize a great leader; however, it is important to note the difference in leadership styles because a leader’s personality often determines the level of success in an organization. In this article, we will explore the different types of leadership styles, its advantages, disadvantages and the different areas of leadership applicability. “the emergence of the post-industrial paradigm contributed substantially to expanding the accessibility of leadership to a variety of populations”.

Types of Leadership

Research over the decades suggests that everyone has a different personality which reflects the way and manner a leader operates, lead or makes decisions. To understand this concept of leadership as to the result of failure and successes, it is necessary to understand the various leadership styles we have. These leadership styles will provide possible insights as to why some leaders are more effective than others, it will also give us knowledge of our personal leadership style. With this knowledge, one can lead effectively and innovatively in a challenging situation.

  1. Autocratic Leadership

This type of leadership is often considered as an ineffective way of leading. Here the leader makes all the decisions without consulting their followers or regards for the followers or people they lead. Although it is considered ineffective, it’s also beneficial, and it is often perceived in situations that need prompt decision making.  The autocratic system of leadership often stiffens growth and productivity because the environment and organization they lead tend to be tensed. Followers under this style of leadership have little to no say in the operations and management of affairs, all decisions and control come directly from the leader. History has also shown that very few actually succeed using this style of leadership because the followers often act in pretense just to satisfy the leader but lack love for the leader or task.

Advantages Disadvantages
Prompt decision making.Useful in a crisis situation, to make firm resolutions.Necessary in situations where guidelines and laws are important.   Lack of innovation. There is a lack of trust. This leads to micromanagement. It creates a system of dependence. Followers often feel less responsible. Stiffens growth and development of the followers.  
  • Democratic Leadership

Unlike the autocratic style of leadership, the democratic style of leadership involves and engages the followers more in every decision-making process. The final decisions are usually as a result of inputs from followers or team members. This style of leadership is often described as the best form of leadership because it allows growth, low-level team members or followers get to learn while engaged in the decision-making process, which in turn grooms them for leadership positions.

The communication pattern in this style of leadership is efficient as it involves all levels of the organization or team. It has also been shown to increase productivity, innovation, and creativity because each team member or follower understands the goal or objectives of the particular project or endeavor.

Advantages Disadvantages
Spur creativity. Builds relationship. There’s job satisfaction. Effective problem-solving.Increase team competence. Facilitates growth and development. Recognizes and celebrates achievements. Enables productivity, because team members or followers believe in the cause.   Decision making might be slow. Passing the buck of failure may be common.  
  • Strategic Leadership

This type of leadership often relates more to the business sector, but not limited to it. The leaders sit in between the goals and objectives with the organization’s main operations, they ensure that proper mechanisms are deployed to meet a specific goal of the organization.

It is described as the act of employing well-coordinated tactics to communicate a goal, objectives or a vision of an organization or body. It requires coordinated effort and teamwork. This type of leadership is also considered as an effective way to lead.

Advantages Disadvantages
Supports unity. Enables commitment. Ensures clarity to tasks. Encourages teamwork. It encourages objective thinking. Followers often feel less responsible.   Decision making might be slow especially when faced with uncertainty. Followers often feel less responsible. There’s no room for flexibility. It can stiffen growth, especially when the strategy isn’t working. Changes can be difficult because of the operational status quo. Cost determines the implementation of the desired strategy.
  • Coaching Leadership

This type of leadership style involves the motivation of the followers or team by a leader, the leader identifies qualities that need nurturing in a person, team, or organization and then develops a strategy for the development of skills, or talents. This type of leadership is a blend of democratic and strategic leadership, with the coach focusing more on individual talent or skill in a team and help transform for growth. It uses feedback as a technique for implementing changes, the feedback also leads to better team performance and trust because each member complements the other. The coaching leader often facilitates and encourages their team or followers to try new things, and be innovative. They help individuals see the big picture of how they fit into the overall organizational structure.

Advantages Disadvantages
Flexible to changes.Turns a weakness into a strength. Produce a positive working environment. Facilitates growth and innovation. Delegates tasks that help develop individual team members. Increases focus and define goals and objectives. It takes time to implement. Might create dependency. It can’t be applied to an area that needs prompt decision making.  
  • Bureaucratic Leadership

This type of leadership style shares some similarities with autocratic leadership, unlike autocratic, bureaucratic leaders often listen to their followers or team members but often disagree with an idea if it goes outside the prescribed norms of the organization or body. This type of leader often plays by the book, law or rules and regulations. It is often found in older organizations that prefer to maintain the status quo.

Advantages Disadvantages
  Enables proper structure. Well spelled out rules and guidelines. Good for preserving rules and regulations   Often too rigid. Not suitable for ambitious growth. It can stiffen growth and innovation. Very difficult to implement changes. Decision making might be impaired.  
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership

The Laissez-faire is derived from French which directly translates to “let them do”, meaning that this type of leadership delegates authority to the followers, team or employees. They let the employees, team and or followers work how they deem fit with minimal to no supervision. It is mostly not regarded as an effective style of leadership because some team members or followers might seem or act less interested in the overall goal or objectives of the organization or body. It is often recommended that this type of leadership be guided and constantly on a check to avoid misdirection.

Advantages Disadvantages
Fewer supervision times. It can be a source of innovation. Empowers employees or followers. Delegates activity which can also help in the development of employee or team members. Lack of co-ordination.No sense of responsibility. Decision making can be difficult. Not suitable for extension or ambitious growth can limit growth and development for both individuals and companies or organizations.
  • Transformational Leadership

This type of leader expounds the boundaries of their team, followers or employees. They set goals and work towards its actualization. A transformational leader often motivates and pushes their team members or followers to achievements, oftentimes the goal might seem impossible to the team members or followers. They serve as agents of change in an organization, and spur higher performance within an organization or establishment, it is a highly recommended form of leadership for organization or body that aspires to expand, and are growth-minded.

Advantages Disadvantages
Clarity of purpose and actions. Definite plans and goals are set. Teamwork is highly encouraged. Develops commitment with teams. Empowers team members or followers. Motivates employees or team members for action. Serve as an element for growth and development. Leaders might get carried away with goals and lose sight of individual team development and growth. It can lead to stress for team members or followers. 
  • Transactional Leadership

This type of leadership is incentive-based, as the goal of the leader is to reward actions or deeds that gravitates towards a desired outcome or goal. The leader sets targets and goals for the team, or followers and rewards achievements subsequently, this process helps establish individualistic goals for all members of the team. It is often regarded as a successful style of leadership in areas that requires motivation or incentives for achievements. It is often advised to vary the incentive to avoid monopoly or loss of interest.

Advantages Disadvantages
Encourages feedback. Increases productivity. Clarity and goal-oriented.Inspires growth and innovation. Motivates and inspires team members to action.   Limits innovation. Create dependency. Creativity is reduced. Mistakes are costly. It can be insensitive to employee’s deficiencies.

Traits of Effective Leaders:

Irrespective of the leadership style, there are distinctive traits leaders must have so as to lead effectively, these traits can be developed with time, although some people are gifted naturally. As earlier stated, continuous studying and learning are ways in which any skills and abilities can be cultivated. Listed below are a few of the basic fundamental qualities a leader must possess in order to lead effectively and with poise.

o             Dedicated

An effective leader shows the level of commitment they have towards a certain goal or objective. It suggests purposefulness and resolution stand by a worthy cause.

o             Self-Confidence

Self-Confidence is a result of one’s belief in themselves and their abilities. A person who is aware of his/her knowledge, experience, and skills tends to act with poise and never gets intimidated by circumstance. They are always enthusiastic about any prospect or venture; this is due to their belief in themselves. As stated before, this trait can be cultivated, and there are different techniques to use. Autosuggestion is an important technique that can enable an individual to develop self-confidence. Self-confidence enables the followers to believe in the idea a leader would develop. Self-confidence enables a leader to decide appropriately, and swiftly without delay or timidity.

o             Honest and integrity

This refers to the ability of a leader to be true to themselves and the people they lead. Everyone who aspires to be a leader or who is a leader must have strong moral values that they live by. A leader is known to be honest with integrity always and usually live by ethics and live to do no harm.

o             Communicates properly

Communication is the key to harmony and persuasion. Previous research has singled effective communication as a tool for passing across ideas and beliefs. And to a large degree, the more effective a leader is with his/her communication skills, the better the chances of proper people management. History has also shown that leaders who can communicate effectively have been the instrument of great changes in our environment.

o             Problem Solving Ability

Our environment is changing rapidly, and these changes bring challenges that must be addressed instantaneously. To be able to spot problems with its component and be able to proffer solutions is a great mark of an effective leader. This ability usually results from knowledge gathered over time, and it can also be cultivated with constant practice and observation.

o             Specialized and Technical Knowledge

Specialized and technical knowledge refers to the accumulated knowledge from past experiences, studies, and research. It entails that to be effective in leadership, it is paramount for an individual or body to be adequately knowledgeable in the particular area of leadership or domain. It is necessary because an effective leader must steer their followers or organizations towards progress or a worthwhile goal.


Leadership is an integral component of our everyday life and has generated a lot of studies. These studies are all focused on helping us to better understand the fundamental concept of leading since all of us are leaders. We have been able to briefly discuss the concept of leadership in this article, with respect to the types and traits necessary to make a great leader. The concepts discussed are few compared to the numerous pieces of literature that exist in the same field of leadership development.