The Hyper Blog

Read the latest news and insights from the world of life science!

HRS Press Releases

View Our Latest News
The 7 Different Styles of Leadership

Business leader

From Elizabeth I to Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela, history has seen many different leaders - and many different styles of leadership.

Prominent leaders often hold their own unique beliefs about how people should be led, but these approaches can be broadly sorted into seven different categories, developed by psychologists and business experts to define the key characteristics of different leadership styles.

In this blog, we're going to take a closer look at the seven different styles of leadership, ranging from autocratic at one end to laissez-faire at the other.

7 Leadership Styles

The term 'leadership style' refers to the behaviours that leaders adopt to interact with their teams. These fall into seven distinct categories:


1. Autocratic Style

"Do as I say."

Generally speaking, an autocratic leader is one who believes they are always right and knows more than others. They tend to make all the decisions themselves, taking little input from those beneath them.

This type of leader may have been effective in workplaces and teams of the past, but nowadays, this style is ineffective in most scenarios.

That said, an autocratic leadership style may be necessary in an emergency, especially if:

  • Important decisions need to be made quickly
  • You are the most knowledgeable person present
  • The people you're leading are inexperienced
  • There's no time for debate or discussion


2. Authoritative Style

"Follow me!"

The authoritative leadership style is utilised by confident leaders who show the way and set expectations for their team members, energising and connecting with them along the way. 

When times get tough, authoritative leaders clear the way for others by helping them to see where they are going and what will happen when they get there. Unlike the autocratic leadership style, authoritative leaders usually take the time to explain their decisions and listen to the people working under their command.


3. Pace-Setting Style

"Do what I do."

Leaders with this leadership style are very driven and tend to set the pace for the rest of the team. They push their team members to work to the best of their abilities in order to achieve a mutually agreed-upon goal.

This type of leadership is a good fit for stressful situations where things need to get done and deadlines need to be met, but the pace-setting style can be harmful if used without care. Even the most driven workers can become overwhelmed with feelings of stress if you set a pace that's difficult to sustain.

To avoid feelings of burnout, leaders should use this style on a short-term basis only, swapping it out for other leadership styles when necessary.


4. Democratic Style

"What do you think?"

Leaders who favour the democratic style share information with their team members about anything that impacts their work responsibilities. They also listen to employees' opinions before making a final decision.

Democratic leadership helps to:

  • Develop trust and a strong feeling of team spirit
  • Encourage creativity and outside-the-box thinking
  • Enable growth and personal development within your team

In a nutshell, the democratic leadership style encourages people to do what you want, but in the way they choose.


5. Coaching Style

"Think about this..."

The coaching approach to leadership views people as talent that can be nurtured and developed. These leaders strive to unlock the maximum potential of each individual member.

Leaders who favour this style of leadership open their hearts and doors for their employees. They hold the belief that each person has strong abilities within themselves that can be realised with small amounts of direction.


6. Affiliative Style

"People come first."

This leadership style is one where the leader really connects with their people, resulting in a close personal relationship. Affiliative leaders pay attention to and support the emotional demands of their employees.

By making use of this style, you strive to encourage synergy and develop collaborative relationships within your team. It is particularly effective in scenarios where conflict has arisen, or during stressful times when team members need reassurance.


7. Laissez-Faire Style

"Do whatever you think is best."

'Laissez-faire' is a French term that literally translates to 'let do'. The seventh and final leadership style involves the least amount of oversight, sitting at the very opposite end of the spectrum to the autocratic style.

Laissez-faire leaders trust their workers to know what to do, and mostly just leave them to get on with the task at hand. Be warned: relying exclusively on this very relaxed, hands-off leadership style may make you appear aloof and disengaged with the rest of the team, potentially breeding resentment.

This leadership style is sometimes effective when leading highly experienced workers who are already very driven and don't require much external motivation. In order to get the best possible results, though, a leader must monitor their team's performance and provide frequent feedback - with no oversight at all, even the very best groups can get sloppy over time.

Knowing which of the seven leadership styles works best for you - and when to use each one - is all part of being a good leader. All seven styles have their place: an autocratic style is useful in life-or-death situations where every second counts, but talented individuals may jump ship if they feel you never listen to any of their suggestions. Conversely, a more democratic approach can give great results, but leaving all the important decisions to your workers can cause problems in situations that require more discipline.

So instead of picking a single approach and using it in any and all circumstances, it's usually best to create a signature style that encompasses aspects of all seven leadership styles. This will help to improve your effectiveness as a leader and enhance the results you get from your team.

Further Reading: