Leadership styles for success


If you aspire to be an effective leader, you’ll need to identify the right style for you and your business. Leadership styles affect how you connect and communicate with your team when you execute on plans, work to resolve conflicts, celebrate wins and more.

Read on to learn what makes a great leader, and which of the 6 common leadership styles below suit you best.


The most powerful and successful companies and organisations in the world have strong leaders. It takes strong leadership to be able to communicate a vision, craft the strategy and direct the execution of an ambitious plan.

But what does it take to be able to conduct business in a manner which truly inspires and cultivates respect? 

For teams to be compelled to accomplish more and create an ongoing legacy – that takes great leadership.

Great leaders are always driven by a purpose that is meaningful to them.  A cause which they’re so passionate about, that it elevates their efforts to a higher level. For them, their work is more than just a job.

To become a great leader yourself, you need to work out which style is the best fit for your natural abilities. You’ll also need to take into account the needs of your team, in fulfilling your organisation’s goals and broader mission.

Everyone has different strenghts and weaknesses, so you may feel more naturally inclined to a certain style. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use another if needed. Different situations may call for different styles of leadership.

Below are 6 common leadership styles.


Most leaders fall into one of six types of leadership styles:

  1. Democratic
  2. Visionary
  3. Coaching
  4. Affiliative
  5. Pacesetting
  6. Commanding

There is also an overarching style that Tony Robbins, a leading authority on leadership psychology, advocates as a key principle for all leaders:



No matter which style resonates with you the most, everything you do as a leader should be grounded by the concept of serving others. It’s impossible to be a great leader if you are only serving your own goals. Servant leadership means using your leadership skills to serve a greater good. This type of leader has found their purpose and integrates it into everything they do. This could mean working to benefit your workplace, community, culture or the world at large. Having a purpose is vital in business: it informs your company’s values, culture and its success or failure.

Servant leaders are also inspiring leaders. Their vision is clear and compelling to everyone involved. They’re able to push through challenging times because they have a deep belief in their purpose, and this influences their teams, too. Because of this, they can make a big impact and leave the world a better place.

To be a great leader, first find your purpose to serve, and develop a strong vision. Then identify which of the following leadership styles suit you best.


Democratic leaders place high value on the diverse skills, qualities and knowledge of their team. They tap into the collective wisdom of the group, and take other opinions on board.

Of all the different leadership styles, democratic leaders are the most collaborative and effective at long-term planning. However, this style can be more time-consuming than others. It’s beneficial to know where your team stands on issues, but when urgent decisions are needed, sometimes you need to make a call with less input.

Teamwork chain


Affiliate leadership is one of the best styles where a sense of trust is paramount, as it puts the team first. Their focus is on building trust and bonds within the group to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty. This can be very useful in situations where the trust in leadership has previously been broken.

Affiliate leaders are very effective in challenging times or when group morale is low. However, when it comes to decision-making, you also need to be mindful of the company’s bottom line.


The coaching leadership style focuses on guiding rather than instructing. If you’re this type of leader, you can lift your team to great heights by forming deeper connections. It allows you to get a more thorough understanding of an individual’s hopes, beliefs, dreams and values. This coaching style cultivates a positive environment. In realms such as professional sports, it encourages every member to be cognizant of their personal value within the team.

In the right environment, this is one of the more effective leadership styles.  However, it can be time intensive because coaching leaders spend a great deal of time and energy on individuals. It can also run the risk of making people feel micromanaged, so there is a need for balance.


Pacesetting leadership is a good choice for groups of self-motivated, high-performers who are dedicated to improvement. Known for being decisive in taking action, pacesetting leaders set high standards for themselves. They’re often skilled at inspiring others to follow their example. 

Of the six types of leadership styles, this one relies the most on autonomy, so it doesn’t suit teams that require a lot of guidance. Pacesetting leadership can also create an environment in which some individuals may feel they’re being pushed too hard by  unreasonable standards.  For this reason, it’s important to regularly get a read on the group sentiment.


Commanding leadership can most often be found in top-down organisations, such as the government, law enforcement and the military. Considered a more outdated approach in business, it adopts the attitude of “do as I say because I’m the boss”. These leaders give directives and expect others to follow orders without question.

This type of leadership can be effective in times of crisis when quick decisions need to be made, however long-term it can leave group members feeling undervalued. This eventually erodes morale and job satisfaction,  so commanding leadership is best reserved for specific scenarios.


Remember, there is no ‘right’ or ‘one-size-fits-all’ leadership style. The world needs a mix of leadership styles to suit different groups and situations. As a result, sometimes a problem is best solved by combining styles for different groups of people, or different phases within a plan.

Exploring the types of leadership styles is an important first step in developing your skills, and in determining how to lead your company effectively. When you consider the best style for a given situation, be mindful of how it affects your organisational goals – and how it aligns with your overriding purpose.