Leadership Styles

An overview of the key leadership styles and understanding the applications of each style within an organisation.

Table of contents

Leadership Styles Overview [edit]

Leadership Review

A brief reminder of the definitions and differences between Models, Philosophies, and Styles:

A leadership model provides a process or framework for learning, applying, and adapting leadership for given groups, organizations, or situations. A model is like a 'how-to' framework, a toolkit or a process.

leadership philosophy is a way of thinking and behaving in leadership - its aims and means - according to values and beliefs. A philosophy is like a subtle but powerful compass or behavioural code.

leadership style is a narrow and specific behaviour compared to a model or philosophy. Leadership style may be strongly influenced by the leader's personality, the aims of the leader, and relationship with followers. A style is a description of a leader's behaviours, and may also be like a tool in the leadership models toolkit.

For more details, see definitions and differences of Models, Philosophies and Styles in the context of leadership theory.

Leadership Styles

Leadership styles, as we define them here, refer not to models or philosophies of leadership, but to descriptions or classifications of the main ways in which real-life leaders behave. A different way to see this is that a style can be part of a model, but not the other way around. A style is a much narrower behaviour, or a smaller set of behaviours, than would be featured in a model. Also, a leadership style is not an adaptable flexible 'toolkit' - it is a relatively tightly defined description of a particular type of leadership.

Unlike leadership models, the aim of leadership styles is not to help individuals become better leaders; it is simply to describe the main forms of leadership we see in the world, some of which can be incorporated within models, albeit under slightly different names and with slightly different features. Some authors use the headings 'leadership models' and 'leadership styles' interchangeably, which is confusing.