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5 Leadership styles with examples

If you’ve ever been in a position where you need to guide, train or co-ordinate people to work together to achieve a common goal, you’ve inadvertently engaged in a leadership style. As much as this can be greatly affected by your personality, your approach can be managed by adopting different leadership styles. 

If you want to learn more about leadership styles in management positions, we recommend you to study our leadership course online. Below is a short breakdown of the core leadership styles and how you can tell them apart. 

By familiarizing yourself with the types of leadership styles, you may be able to identify areas where you may enhance or improve your own leadership style. You can also explore leadership training courses to learn how to collaborate with managers who have a different leadership style than yours and explore a variety of leadership styles that would better fit your present goals.

Before we jump into the bulk of this article, it would be a good idea to famialiarise yourself with the five main leadership styles in management. It’s important to remember that neither of these leadership styles are good or bad, they are merely different approaches that leaders and managers can use to achieve a certain objective through their team members, colleagues and employees. 

  1. Authoritarian Leadership.
  2. Participative Leadership.
  3. Delegative Leadership.
  4. Transactional Leadership.
  5. Transformational Leadership

All five of these leadership styles have their own unique characteristics. Try to identify which characteristics you tend to exhibit when you are leading or managing teams or groups.

1 – Authoritarian

Authoritarian leadership is also referred to as autocratic leadership. This leadership style is defined by individual authority over all decisions and limited involvement from members of the organization. Authoritarian leaders rarely take input from team or group members and make decisions based on their own views and opinions. Absolute control over a group and decisions is the hallmark of authoritarian leadership.

Although it might seem as an oppressive leadership style in management, there are scenarios where this leadership style is preferred over more democratic leadership styles. When and where the authoritarian style is most beneficial depends on a variety of elements, including the environment, the task the group is working on, and the team members’ personalities. If you frequently use this style of leadership with a group, understanding your style and the contexts in which it is most successful will be beneficial.


In businesses and organizations where decision-making must happen quickly, effectively, and where certain tasks must be completed in a specific manner with limited opportunity for error, the authoritarian leadership style is most beneficial to the task and organisation. Industries where this is beneficial to the group or team are such as construction, manufacturing, and the military, authoritarian leadership is advantageous. This form of leadership avoids projects being stalled due to a lack of structure or clear deadlines, and it allows team members to focus on specific tasks without having to engage in the complex decision-making process. When the leader is the most knowledgeable individual in the group, authoritarian leadership may be beneficial.

Examples of leaders who have used authoritarian leadership:


  • Adolf Hitler
  • Benito Mussolini 
  • Kim Jong-un 
  • Richard Nixon
  • Vladimir Putin

Business people:

  • Larry Ellison (Oracle Corporation)
  • Lorne Michaels (Many positions and contributions in film making)
  • Leona Helmsley (Helmsley Hotels)
  • Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX)
  • Howell Raines (The New York Times) 
  • Martha Stewart (Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia)
  • Donald Trump (The Trump Organization)

Although the list contains some of the most infamous dictators.

2 – Participative Leadership 

Leaders who use a democratic approach to team participation are referred to as participatory leaders. Employees with participative leaders have the opportunity to demonstrate their own creativity by coming up with solutions to problems that are employed throughout the team or organisation. This is in sharp contrast to authoritarian leadership, in which the leader takes all the decision making upon themselves. The leader in participative leadership empowers their teams and involves them in the decision-making process. Employees, team, and group members feel appreciated as a consequence, and they give their all to the business. Participative leaders have the ability to encourage their staff and get greater results from them. This leadership style aids in the efficient and successful achievement of the company’s goals.


Bill Gates: 

The creator of Microsoft recognized the importance of empowering people and discovered that the best approach to surpass market competition is to include competent team members in decision-making.

Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn

Ghosn’s approach is unique in that he allows his employees to participate in decision-making. He also feels that teams are the best at determining what has to be done in order to boost production.

3 – Delegative Leadership

When it comes to making choices, a delegative leadership style is one in which the leader wants to delegate authority to their team. These leaders delegate authority to their immediate subordinates to make choices that would ordinarily be the leader’s responsibility.

For example, you can develop some reward mechanisms for your team to award to your employees to motivate them, such as the “Excellent Employee Award”, “Hardworking Employee Award”, etc., and when employees are awarded honorary titles, they can also receive Custom medals are not only the company’s recognition of employees but also an incentive for employees’ subsequent work.

custom medals

 As a result, a delegative leader frequently grants decision-making authority throughout the company to individuals. These leaders like to provide their employees and team members with the resources and tools they need to complete a task, while offering their own knowledge when needed. Employees who work under a boss that uses this leadership style are expected to address their own difficulties.

The group’s activities and choices are the responsibility of the leader and although the direct subordinates may have decision-making power, the leader maintains responsibility for the failures and successes.


Robert Noyce

Intel is a great example of how delegative leadership is able to pave the road for a research and development-focused company to achieve great success. Intel used a hands-off management approach to attract the highly trained engineers who would make the firm a household brand. By using a hands-off leadership style to help attract the highly skilled engineers, Robert Noyce managed to make Intel a household name. Andrew Grove and Gordon Moore, for example, would prosper under Noyce’s independence, with the latter creating Moore’s Law, a key fundamental in current technological development.

Warren Buffett 

Warren Buffet’s investing and commercial transactions provides a modern example of delegative leadership. His firm, Berkshire Hathaway, owns major stakes of several of the world’s most valuable companies, including Coca-Cola and Apple.  Buffet is a wise leader who expects his people to be willing to accept responsibility. He prioritizes mentorship and instruction above authoritative leadership and decision-making. He also leaves business decision entirely in the hands of the firms in which he has invested, rather than attempting to sway their decisions after his investment.

4 – Transactional Leadership

Managers who use this leadership style motivate their employees and teams by threats of punishment and rewards. They’ll give you what you want if you give them what they want. These transactions result in the seamless operation of a tight ship. The aims and objectives desired by leadership are clear to all members of the team, group and organisation. Transactional leaders are also aware of their duties in achieving their goals and objectives. 

The transactional leadership style is most common in mid- to large-sized businesses. It’s commonly utilized in manufacturing and other sectors with strict regulations. Transactional leadership has the potential to keep everyone in the team working consistently toward a goal. These strategies are dominated by policies and procedures and is especially true with multinational organisations.

This is due to the fact that leaders must manage people from many cultures who speak different languages. 


 A typical example is in companies where staff must satisfy strict requirements. Employees earn a bonus or a promotion if they meet a certain quota. If they don’t, they miss out on their bonus. According to a transactional leadership styles in management, employees value external benefits which serves as a motivator to achieve organisational goals. The sales industry make use of this leadership style very often.  

5 – Transformational Leadership

The term “transformational leadership” refers to a type of leadership style that affects both people and society. It promotes meaningful and good change in team members and employees in its ideal form, with the objective of turning team members into leaders. Transformational leadership, when practiced in its purest form, improves team mebers’ motivation, morale, and performance.

Employee motivation to generate change, innovate, and define the future of the business is the emphasis of transformational leadership. They understand charismatic leadership entails engaging with team members and motivates them to succeed. Instead of micromanaging, transformational leaders encourage employee autonomy and ownership. Employees are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of transformational leaders by demonstrating their own creativity and innovation as a role model.

While the transformational leadership approach is well-suited for today’s fast-paced, diversified and highly technical workforce, the style is far from a new phenomenon. Infact, in 1970 James MacGregor Burns, a presidential biographer and leadership specialist coined the term “Transformational leadership”.  Transformational leaders focus less on making choices or setting strategic goals, and more on encouraging organizational co-operation that may help move a vision forward.


Steve Jobs

People who worked under Steve Jobs claimed he was always pushing for and wanting more, and that he continuously challenged everyone to think beyond what they had done. He urged them to consider things that consumers didn’t even realize they needed and to pursue them aggressively. He utilized leadership to help reform his company’s structure, increase employee happiness, and use goods to make a difference in the world. Apple is famed for its innovation, thanks in large part to Jobs’ encouragement of employees and use of transformational leadership to empower everyone to express themselves creatively.

Jeff Bezos 

Many people see Jeff Bezos as a brilliant transformative leader. His management approach is to always encourage employees and staff to consider new items and ideas. Because of his revolutionary and inventive style, Amazon has taken e-commerce and delivery to new heights.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama is noted for his transformative leadership style in the White House. He urged all of his employees to be candid about their suggestions for improvement. He was not frightened of change, and he promoted it in those around him. He made himself accessible to staff so that they could share their innovative ideas and views with him. This enabled him to harness government innovation to achieve significant changes for the better.


Leadership might come easily, but it isn’t always a given. Leadership may be acquired through leadership development programs, which use rigorous study and practice to generate, develop, and strengthen leadership abilities. These abilities can assist in demonstrating the importance of leadership.

Moreover, improving leadership skills significantly increases your chances to start a career as a motivational speaker, team leader, or manager.

The capacity of the organisation or team to consistently deliver excellent performance, even after the original leader has left, is a genuine hallmark of leadership. These abilities and tactics become ingrained in high-performance cultures in businesses, but leaders must create and keep a positive tone.

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