Leadership Styles are many and varied, from the traditional top-down authoritarian style to a more collaborative shared leadership model. No one style works best in every circumstance or situation. Skilled leaders understand the strengths and weaknesses of many leadership styles and are able to apply the style most effective in achieving, often conflicting, organisational objectives.


Common leadership styles include:

  1. Authoritarian – Also known as ‘Autocratic’, this is a strictly hierarchical top-down leadership style where information is held, and decisions made, at the top. Decisions are communicated from the top of the pyramid, down through various levels of subordinates. This style works best when the leader is more knowledgeable/experienced on a subject than their subordinates. However, skilled and informed employees can feel limited by restrictions imposed by this style.
  2. Participative – Alternatively referred to as ‘Democratic’, this leadership style is known for its flatter structure with greater emphasis on getting consensus among team members and applying a majority decision. An excellent leadership style for ensuring everyone contributes and has a voice in the decision-making process. The democratic style is less effective than its autocratic counterpart when quick decisions are required.
  3. Laissez-faire – From the French for ‘let it be’, this leadership style gives goal-setting and decision-making authority to subordinates. The leader remains available for advice and guidance when required but otherwise, takes a back-seat in the process. This style can stimulate creativity and foster job-satisfaction in confident, self-motivated subordinates. In some situations, though, the lack of direction and control from above can lead to reduced motivation and poor performance.
  4. Transformational – A leadership style based on the idea of a leader inspiring followers to be the best they can be, for themselves and for the group. With this style, the leader paints the big picture and communicates with the group to create a positive environment in which team members strive to be more efficient and productive in achieving the common goal. Good for getting consensus and everyone onboard with the group’s aims. This leadership style, however, relies on teams having members able and prepared to focus on detail to achieve desired results.
  5. Bottom-up – Unlike ‘top-down’ which suggests an ongoing role in a hierarchical model, the bottom-up leadership style is not role-based and is generally considered to be a one-off occurrence with a defined end. An example of this style might involve an employee devising a better way of doing something; possibly more efficient, cheaper, faster or more effective. This new way of doing things is adopted by the organisation – leadership from the bottom, up.

ECAC leadership courses teach practical skills enabling aspiring leaders to recognise and apply the leadership style required to strike the right balance between maintaining team relationships and achieving organisational objectives. Contact us for more details and become the effective, adaptable leader you can be.