10 Common Leadership Styles


Regardless of the varied scenarios and challenges that leaders face, the essential elements of leadership remain the same. Similarly, the characteristics that distinguish a leader from a manager are pretty definitive, no matter what.

This doesn’t mean that all leaders look alike. In fact, leaders may differ in stance or style depending on their strengths, perspectives or experiences. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for the same leader to take on different leadership styles in different situations.

Leadership styles reflect how a leader emphasizes certain behaviors and characteristics over others.  This emphasis is represented in the leader’s own personal actions,  and in how they relate to their team. To explore this idea further, familiarize yourself with these ten common styles of leadership:

  1. Coaching: The coaching leader places energy and focus on propelling fellow team members forward. This type of leader is tuned-in to supporting his or her employees in developing new skills, building self-awareness, and advancing their careers. When a leader takes a coaching role, they’re not teaching, telling or correcting. Rather, they’re partnering with an employee for the sake of that team member’s individual growth.
  1. Visionary: Leaders that utilize this style put emphasis on creating clarity, buy-in and resonance around a shared vision of the future. This type of leader is conscious to place current actions, plans, struggles, and triumphs in the context of a bigger picture. Visionary leaders tap into the intrinsic motivation that’s created when individuals take ownership of a future filled with excitement and potential.
  1. Collaborative: This style of leadership is democratic in nature, emphasizing inclusion and consensus-building as a pathway to better decision-making. Collaborative leaders leverage listening and empathy in order to ensure all perspectives are heard and that team members remain engaged. They rely on the unique talents and strengths of each team member when solving problems.
  1. Growth-Minded: Leaders that typify a growth-minded style are oriented towards tangible results and the continual acceleration of pace. Their language and behaviors emphasize achievement, and they define success in terms of the team’s ability to reach increasingly higher and higher goals.
  1. Task-Oriented: Leaders that embody a task-oriented style are focused on action and accountability. They put more emphasis on task completion rather than relationships, team dynamics or longer-term thinking. These leaders take a hands-on approach, and don’t hesitate to jump in and help the team when needed.
  1. Directive: Leaders that utilize this style don’t create lots of space for consensus-building. Although they consider the input of team members, they are keen to draw decisions to a close and provide clear direction. They emphasize efficiency in operations and communications.
  1. Relationship-Based: This style of leadership is attentive to building connections between team members, and creating the conditions that promote an effective team culture. Relationship-based leaders emphasize the use of soft skills to build deeper levels of trust, unity and “glue” among a team.
  1. Hands-Off: The hands-off leader places emphasis on delegating tasks to others on the team, and puts stock in trusting his or her team members to get the job done. Leaders that typify this style are sensitive to keeping their thinking and tasks at a higher level, while leaving operational concerns to others.
  1. Empowering: Leaders of this type embody a service mindset in relationship to their team. They define their role in terms of how they can empower others to achieve more and be successful. These leaders put employees first. They allow them the autonomy to make significant contributions, place them in situations where they can shine, and champion them in the face of risk-taking.
  1. Grounded: Individuals who embody this style lead from a very authentic, transparent and self-aware position. They know what they stand for, and are conscious of walking the talk. Grounded leaders are very intentional in their approach to communications and actions. They exhibit high levels of integrity and confidence, and set a strong and inspiring example for others.