Different Styles of Leadership

A leader can mean something different for everyone and it goes further than, what makes a good leader and what makes a bad leader.

Essentially, a leader will influence or guide others through leading by example. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be in a senior role, but leading a team towards a common goal.

Why is understanding leadership styles important?

It creates awareness, allows us to take responsibility and improve our understanding surrounding the leadership styles. The way we lead is made up of a mix of our values, abilities, experiences and natural strengths.

By understanding your leadership style, it will help you align your unique mix to your goals and your organisation’s mission.

Effective leaders create impact. However, you need to understand where you’re currently at and where you are heading. Knowing where you’re starting from, will provide you with a reference point in which you can use to identify the steps to take in order to improve.

Understanding how you lead and want to lead will give you a better sense of control over the size and scope of your reach and impact

Joyel Crawford

There are various styles of leadership which have their own benefits and limitations. Read on to see a breakdown of a series of common leadership styles, revealing some pros and cons for each.


Transformational leaders seek to find better ways to get the job done, make improvements and fundamentally, transform their businesses. These types of leaders lead by inspiring their employees to innovate, get out of their comfort zone and achieve what may seem impossible.

As a result, teams feel inspired and empowered. They own their work, are given autonomy to innovate and will have an input in group discussions on making improvements


Authoritarian leaders (also known as Autocratic leaders) make decisions independently, rather than getting input from others. Authoritarian leaders provide clear expectations on what needs to be achieved, by when, and how it should be done.

This type of leadership limits creativity and this technique can be received by peers as dictatorial, bossy or micromanaging.

There is a time and place for this type of leader, such as when a decision needs to be made quickly, or when the leader is the most knowledgeable in that area. However, this can also cause employees to feel undervalued, ignored or restricted.


The transactional leadership style is very much reflected in its name. This approach is instructional and is based on ‘I offer you this, and you do this in return for me’.

Depending on the situation, rewards and penalties are used to either applaud or punish. With transactional leadership, expectations are clearly communicated by the leader, which leaves no room for guesswork. However, due to the unbending expectations, creativity and innovation can be stifled, which leads to untapped potential and unsatisfied teams.


The participative leadership style is also referred to as democratic. The leader makes decisions based on team member’s input, which is a more collaborative approach.

This creates an inclusive environment and keeps peers engaged and motivated on the job. Participative leadership types also assist in the creation of a strong team and high levels of productivity.

The down-side would be decision-making becoming a time-consuming task. Individuals can take advantage of the transparency in information shared – which can lead to privacy issues.


This leadership style is also known as laissez-faire leadership, which is the complete opposite to autocratic leadership.

This style of leading provides the least amount of oversight, giving peers the opportunity to run their own ship, encourages accountability, a relaxed work environment and creativity.
This method of leading can be successful if peers are highly competent, prefer working individually and are able to take ownership of their work.

With a more hands-off approach, the challenges include a lack of structure, employees misinterpreting expectations, and a drop in productivity due to the minimal support. Low morale, lacking direction towards the end goal can also be cons when working with the delegative leadership style.


This type of leader is able to identify the strengths, weaknesses and motivations of individuals. Setting up the foundations of goal setting, regular feedback meetings and new projects to encourage growth is the style of a coach leader. They promote a positive and inspiring work environment.

The coach leadership is beneficial to teams but is more time consuming compared to other leadership styles, as there is emphasis on investing time and resources in people to promote improvement and growth.

Coaching leaders are:

  • Supportive
  • Value learning
  • Highly self-aware
  • Offer knowledge yet guide by asking questions
  • Promotes free and critical thinking
  • Positive in nature
  • Empower others


Pacesetting leaders set high standards, are focused on driving quick results and performance. This type of leadership is motivating, high-energy and is seen in fast-paced environments.

The benefits include pushing individuals to achieve their business objectives and to be adaptable to a dynamic and fast paced work environment.

The challenges present with this leadership style is that it can lead to teams being overworked and stressed. Peers may also receive no clear instructions, feedback, mentorship or praise.

The pacesetting leadership style favours performance and goal-setting which is ideal in getting quick results for the organisation, but it may not work well for all individuals.

How to develop your leadership style

If you are looking to hone your leadership style, it would be useful to identify which leadership type resonates with you, and apply more structure around it when applying it in a team setting.

Questions to help you uncover your leadership style could include:

  • What does teamwork look like to you?
  • Do you prefer to make decisions without group input?
  • What do you value the most? For example, achieving goals or relationship building?
  • Do you prefer structure or a free-flowing environment?
  • What do you think motivates people?
  • Do you look at the short-term goals or the bigger picture?

How can Future Leaders Academy help with creating effective leaders?

At Future Leaders Academy (FLA), we understand managers aren’t necessarily effective leaders who inspire, grow and lead teams. We offer practical leadership training for both the youth space and business sector.

Our programmes are military-inspired and we work with businesses, youth development, the New Zealand government, and we run international expeditions across New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Strength from multi-cultural unity is a unique stand point for us which we foster, to build high performing student leaders and teams.

If you are an aspiring student leader or already in a leadership role looking to improve and hone your skills, check out our advanced student leadership courses which has been included in the list of top student leadership courses in New Zealand. If you have any questions feel free to call or send us an email and one of our friendly team will get in touch.

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