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32 Styles of Leadership

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Leadership is the art of getting people moving in the same direction with a common purpose and goals. This is a fundamental social role that naturally emerges in any group. It is often viewed as being separate from official authority such as management structures. As such, it is possible for anyone to step up to lead groups towards ideas and actions. The following are common leadership styles.
Abundance Mentality
The belief there is enough for everyone. Builds others up.
Affiliative Leadership
Builds group cohesion, harmony and comradery.
Authentic Leadership
Based on candor, transparency and keeping it real. Typically talented with no fear of challenge.
Authoritarian Leadership
Controls based on authority. May use secrecy and other negative tactics to increase control. Fears competition, disorder and charismatic individuals. In some cases, authoritarian leaders don't have all that much authority but may reference other authorities such as rules to try to increase their power.
Indicates a leader in a position of power and authority who uses this power without concern for what others think.
A leader who believes in strict adherence to processes, rules, procedures, roles and responsibilities. In many cases, these leaders have simply adapted to life in a bureaucratic organization.
Charismatic Leadership
Idiosyncratic leadership based on the personal presence and style of an individual. Often inconsistent but commands respect and may get things done.
A leader who views themselves as a coach or mentor who is focused on giving feedback and advice to improve performance.
Command And Control
Issuing orders that are to be followed with precision without question. Important to some types of work that require precise coordination of effort.
Contingency Leadership
Changes their style to match the situation. For example, giving low performers supervision while allowing high performers do as they please.
Creative Leadership
Implements processes for non-obvious value creation such as experiments. Encourages a culture of brave ideas, positivity and bias for action.
A leader who doesn't set any direction but views themself as the facilitator of democratic processes. Prone to mediocrity and inaction based on the characteristics of group decisions such as the abilene paradox.
Directive Leadership
Provides clear instructions and deadlines. Clears issues and expects results.
Ethical Leadership
Leads according to principles that they view as fair. Important to roles that have some ethical aspect such as fiduciary duty.
Humble Leadership
Uses the power of humility whereby a leader recognizes how much they depend on others. Viewed as grounded and helpful such that they can establish credibility.
Laissez-faire leaders stay out of the way and allow teams to do what they do. They give people freedom but little support and direction. Works well where teams know what they are doing.
Participative Leadership
Views leadership functions such as strategy and decision making as a participative process. Generally won't make decisions and prefers extensive social processes such as frequent meetings.
Paternalistic Leadership
Manages for the good of the team as opposed to for the good of stakeholders. Common in collectivist cultures.
A broad term for leaders who provide clear directives and goals.
Socializes a lot. Gives out work assignments in an informal way. Socializes decisions and issue clearing.
Progressive Leadership
Embraces aggressive change without necessarily being able to articulate its value. Tends to follow trends.
Servant Leadership
Adds value by supporting team. May lack much of a strategy or vision. Prone to mediocrity such as allowing low performers to drift.
Situational Leadership
Adapts their style to the situation. Another term for contingency leadership (above).
Strategic Leadership
Focused on strategy. Provides strategies and goals as opposed to direction and support. Some employees will thrive under these conditions while others may find it difficult.
Another term for servant leadership (above).
Focused on clearing the latest tasks. Reactive.
Seagull Leadership
A laissez-faire leader who provides no direction or support. Swoops down to suddenly push people when there is an issue. This is also known as management by exception.
Assertive Leadership
A gritty leader who isn't afraid to engage in political battles with anyone. Has a fearsome personal presence and is typically competent in their roll. Defends their team if they are loyal. Doesn't fit in where the culture values group harmony.
Transactional Leadership
Follows a generic process of setting goals, monitoring, clearing issues and evaluating performance. Can manage anyone competently but isn't into strategy and pushing for their team.
Transformational Leadership
A leader who is looking to shake things up -- to disrupt complacency and push for high performance.
Transitional Leadership
A leader who is concerned with a project or initiative as opposed to a sustained team and organizational function. Common in matrix organizations.
Concerned with the future and uninterested in details of operations that aren't exciting enough. Often a founder who owns many shares.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about leadership.
Abundance Mentality
Bias For Action
Change Management
Charismatic Authority
Corporate Governance
Creative Leadership
Cruel Wit
Curiosity Drive
Defensive Pessimism
Delegated Authority
Expectation Setting
Fake It Till You Make It
Formal Authority
Heliotropic Effect
Informal Authority
Intrinsic Motivation
Leadership Culture
Leadership Decisions
Leadership Functions
Leadership Goals
Leadership Qualities
Leadership Skills
Leadership Strengths
Leadership Style
Leadership Weaknesses
Managing Up
Name Dropping
Nudge Theory
Office Politics
Personal Presence
Petty Authority
Political Capital
Positive Criticism
Resistance To Change
Servant Leadership
Shadow Of The Leader
Situational Leadership
Social Proof
Strategic Dominance
Tone At The Top
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