Good leaders are the heartbeat of effective business. Every organization, no matter how big they are, what they do or where they are, depend on good leadership for their success. When I think of my bosses, I picture them as good and bad. Like most of us we can identify who the bad and good leaders are in our different careers. I came to a realization that each leader is unique and as a result, they have different leadership skills which we then paint as good or bad.

During my working lifetime in different work environments, I have encountered many leaders, each with their unique style of leadership. Some were always there to provide guidance, support and resources. Others were never there pushing and steering teams by remote controlling to get achieve goals. Now I have risen to top management in my company, I often ask myself what type of a leader I am?


Simply put, leadership style is the manner in which one manages employees. Leaders is basically about influencing people, they motivate, inspire and enthuse their subordinates to achieve objectives. Let me stress at this point that there is no correct or wrong leadership style. A leader’s style depends on the environment and situation that presents itself.

1. The Autocratic Leader

This type of leadership also known as ‘traditional or classic’ style of leadership. Subordinates have little to no contribution in decision making. It is paramount to note that a leader does not just pick a style at random and use it regardless of the situations. I remember my manager in my first job was autocratic and as time moved, she thawed and used other styles as the years went by and I gained experience under her leadership.

While some are of the opinion that autocratic leadership style is out of date and should not be used there is still some place where it is still valuable.  Autocratic leadership style maybe preferred with:

  • New untrained employees.
  • People with low motivation and achievement orientation.
  • During times of emergency and when there is little time for decision making.

This style of leadership does not entail a leader being rude and barking orders to subordinates. It can still be employed in a respectful and friendly manner. 

2. Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leaders follow rules and procedures making it less innovative and creative in their approach. Everything is done according to procedure and policy. Creativity and flexibility can be counter-productive for this style of leadership.

It is highly useful in organizations where:

  • Tasks are routine.
  • There is a need for standards or procedures to ensure safety of equipment and staff e.g. chemistry related jobs, mining.
  • Safety or security training being conducted, e.g. pilots, soldiers and intelligence officers.
  • This type of approach is used in government roles and other like organizations e.g. universities and churches, to ensure quality, increase security and minimize malpractices.

Bureaucratic leadership style is result oriented. Its big letdown is that it does not encourage staff to be creative and think outside the box which is a hindrance to staff development and growth.

3. Laissez-Faire Leadership

This type of leadership is also known as ‘hands-off’ where the leader gives subordinates the freedom to make their own decisions on how to achieve goals. Laissez-faire leader sets objectives, provides tools and resources and very minimal guidance to allow staff to decide on the who, how, what and when to complete the objective set.

The leader avails themselves should a member want to consult and be guided. Laissez-faire style is appropriate when employees:

  • Are trustworthy and experienced.
  • Have pride in their work and the drive to do it successfully on their own.
  • Are highly skilled, experienced and educated or
  • Outside experts, such as staff specialists or consultants are being used.

This leadership style would have been the most ideal during the Covid 19 pandemic period given the remote work scenario that has been created. It is fact that this has fallen to abuse by a number of staff as they would fail to meet targets and deadlines and consequently submit half baked results.

Knowing when and for whom to use is the trick for this leadership style.

4. Transformational Leadership

Leaders for this style motivate and incite their subordinates to work towards a needed change. They encourage, inspire and motivate employees to perform which resonates strongly with mentorship process. Transformational leaders encourage their staff to be innovative and creative. The style encourages employees to see what they are capable of developing them into leaders.

Transformational leadership style is useful when:

  • People need to be motivated.
  • Leaders want to build a sense of purpose.
  • Leaders want members to be an active part of the organization and have ownership to it.
  • The organization is making radical changes to its structure, culture.


There are many styles a leader can choose from but it’s generally the situation and environment that will dictate which style is best. A leader needs to understand their team members’ needs and the nature of their work. The following points may be helpful for a leader to choose the right leadership style to use:

  • Get to know the strengths, weaknesses, development areas of your members.
  • Don’t allow any past negative situations to control how you lead.
  • Communicate your vision, goals and objectives to all in the team.
  • Practice good communication skills and respect no matter what type of day you are having.

By choosing the correct leadership style with your team, you create the best opportunity to get them behind you and firing on all cylinders in their work. Whether you are in Europe, Africa, Asia and leading a grocery shop, farm, church or a conglomerate leadership style are the same, it’s how you choose hand employ them for the success of your organization.