9 Leadership Styles (and How to Develop Your Own)

Leadership isn't one-size fits all. There are many ways to lead people: transformational, visionary, delegative, and more. Discover different ways leaders lead and meet the business icons who use those methods daily.

Leadership is not one-size-fits-all, different leaders have different styles, and knowing what they are and how to use them is essential in becoming a successful leader. Leadership styles can vary from being hands-on and directive, to allowing more autonomy and creativity. 
In this article, we'll take a look at 9 popular leadership styles, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

Leadership styles

Servant Leader
Servant leaders focus on serving the needs of their team and customers, rather than on acquiring power and personal gain. They are dedicated to the growth and well-being of their team members and satisfaction of their customers. An example of this type of leader is Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens. She is known for instilling a servant leadership approach where the company does everything it can to satisfy customers, including losing revenue through returns or refunds. Rather than focusing on the immediate revenue loss, Brewer and her team recognized the value of retaining a customer long-term rather than keeping revenue from a lost customer.
Visionary Leader
Visionary leaders have a clear idea of where they want to take their organization and the ability to communicate that vision to others. They are able to inspire and motivate their team to work towards a common goal, and they are able to anticipate and prepare for future challenges. An example of this type of leader is Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva. She is known for her ability to articulate a clear vision for the company and her ability to inspire and motivate employees to work towards achieving that vision.
Affiliative Leader
Affiliative leaders create bonds with their team members and direct reports. They put people before profit and believe the team always comes first. An example of this is Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, he is known to be a personable leader who is able to connect with his employees on a personal level. This leadership style is particularly effective during challenging times like dealing with low morale or fractured communication between teams.
Coaching Leader
A coaching leader spends their time nurturing the individual strengths of each member of their team. Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Facebook and the author of the best-selling book "Lean In," Sandberg has become a leading advocate for women in business. She is widely recognized for her ability to mentor and coach others to success, both within her company and in the broader business community.
Participative or Interactive Leader
Consensus-builders are constantly asking for input from their direct reports and peers. An example of this type of leader is Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. He is known for being an excellent listener who develops confidence in his leadership by utilizing the collective wisdom of his team. Participative leaders regularly empower their teams to exercise their own authority. This often leads to more strong leaders growing under participative leadership.
Delegative Leader
A Delegative leader is often found in entrepreneurial environments. They trust their employees to do what they're supposed to do and offer minimal direction or intervention. An example of this type of leader is Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo. She is known for giving different divisions of the company a lot of autonomy, and also encourages them to be creative and innovative. This leadership style can lead to strong, autonomous teams that are able to execute quickly and effectively. When not managed effectively however, teams can drift off course without a leader there to get them back on track.
Transformational Leader 
Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their team to not just meet goals, but to strive for greatness. These leaders are often eloquent and charismatic which captures the attention and respect of employees. They lead by example and create a clear vision for their team to follow. An example of this type of leader is Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks. He is known for his ability to develop a strong vision for the company, and his ability to inspire and motivate his employees to work towards achieving a common goal. 
Lead by Example
Leaders who lead by example expect their team to work as hard and as efficiently as they do. They act as a model of what’s expected. These types of leaders are often captains of sports teams; not necessarily the most skilled player, but the one who demonstrates the desired work ethic of everyone on the team. An example of this is Harley Finkelstein, President of Shopify. He regularly answers support tickets from Shopify merchants in order to stay close to the customer. This monthly ritual shows Shopify employees how important it is for them to regularly communicate and consider their customer’s perspective. 
Adaptive leaders are able to change their leadership style to fit the situation at hand. They are able to adapt to the changing needs of their team, and they are able to lead effectively in uncertain and chaotic environments. An example of this type of leader is Mary Barra, CEO of GM. She is known for her ability to adapt to the rapidly changing needs of her company, and her ability to lead effectively in a constantly evolving automotive business environment.

How to Develop Your Leadership Style

As a leader, it's essential to understand your own leadership style and the styles of those around you. Knowing when to use a specific style and how to adapt your style to fit different situations is critical to becoming a successful leader. It's important to note that no single leadership style is perfect for every situation, and it's often necessary to use different styles at different times.
Additionally, it's also important to understand that different people are motivated by different styles, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's essential to be aware of how different styles impact your team members, and to adjust your leadership style accordingly.
To develop your own leadership style, it's essential to understand your natural tendencies and strengths, as well as your values and the needs of your team. Seek feedback from your team and try out different approaches to see what works best for you and your team. Remember, effective leadership is about creating the conditions for success and inspiring your team to achieve their best.

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