Leadership: 7 Types and When to Use Them

To be a leader means meeting the needs of an organization and guiding other professionals to work together so that the organization can grow. Leading a team is not a simple task, and to improve this ability you need to identify the different leadership styles and when to use which one.

A successful business leadership helps to improve interpersonal relationships, keep employees engaged, and promote effective human communication. All of this helps teams to fulfill their activities and obligations more easily, thus achieving their goals.

Leading is a great responsibility, and, at KWAN, we know that leading tech teams in remote or hybrid work – even though the performance is better – is more challenging than ever, especially in a constantly evolving area where there is a shortage of talent and a huge turnover.

Nevertheless, theoretical results are not always achieved in practice, which can happen for several reasons, including the existence of different leadership styles. 

In this article, we give you the 7 main leadership styles that should be applied in different circumstances according to the needs of the company, the workload, the culture, and even the personality of each member of your team.

The 7 Key Leadership Styles

All good leaders share some key traits. However, all leaders, regardless of their personality and working style, have to adapt to particular work circumstances. This allows us to differentiate between 7 key leadership styles.

1. Autocratic Leadership

In this leadership style, the leader adopts an authoritarian and centralizing attitude towards the team, considering that they make all strategic decisions based on their knowledge and judgment, without any input from their team.

Their employees are in no position to challenge their leader’s decisions, often seeing them as a “boss”. They have to accept all the imposed goals, decisions, tasks, and rules.

Autocratic leadership – if used frequently – leads to demotivation and low levels of productivity in the team, so it should only be used in very specific situations, such as emergencies or in circumstances that put the company’s reputation at risk.

2. Liberal Leadership or “Laissez Faire”

This leadership style is based on the principle that employees have a high level of maturity, as well as the necessary skills and experience to perform their tasks and meet goals without the need for constant mentoring.

A liberal leader understands that constant intervention would only be harmful to their team. Their employees are extremely productive and have great self-management skills and absolute freedom to propose solutions, make decisions, and make plans.

Not all people have the ability to work in a very liberal environment, as they lack the focus needed to self-manage or do not yet have the necessary experience – which may make them feel unsupported. At the same time, this leadership style can lead to the development of a certain individualism among team members and a feeling of little respect for the leader – so it should be used consciously.

3. Democratic Leadership

In democratic leadership, there is a better balance between the role of the leader and the role of the team. In this case, the employees are more involved. Not only do they perform their tasks, but they also take part in the decision-making process, goal planning, and strategy development.

The satisfaction and well-being of the team is a major concern of the democratic leader. The democratic leader fosters open dialogue and makes employees feel that they are truly part of the company. Everyone shares a more harmonious, motivating, and hence productive environment.

4. Coaching Leadership

The coach leader is highly focused not only on their personal development but also on their team’s. They share constructive feedback, encourage the employees to improve their skills, and promote self-motivation.

To do this, the coach leader pays individual attention to each of their employees, trying to get each of them to recognize their potential, hone their strengths, and work on their weaknesses to improve their skills.

This leadership style tends to create teams with high performances, based on the principle that each element is constantly motivated to give their best.

5. Situational Leadership

Situational leadership is flexible and will always depend on the needs of the company and the maturity of the employees. A situational leader has extensive knowledge and management experience and is, therefore, able to adapt to different situations and choose the leadership style that best suits the present moment.

This leadership style is highly beneficial to the company and enables a continuous generation of gains, even in more difficult periods. Considering the tasks to be performed and the profile of each of the employees, the situational leader may even be able to manage each employee in a different and adapted way.

6. Transactional Leadership

As the name suggests, transactional leadership is based on a reward system. The transactional leader rewards their employees based on their performance. The reward serves as a way to encourage the team to meet their objectives and achieve goals.

This type of leadership assumes that workers are not self-motivated to perform their tasks and need structure, instruction, and supervision to carry out their jobs. Using a reward system, transactional leaders call upon the self-interest of their employees to keep them on track.

The goal of this leadership style is to achieve short-term goals and accomplish specific tasks. There is no room for change and creativity, and innovation is not encouraged.

Some other risks associated with transactional leadership include a reliance on rewards alongside the fear and insecurity that comes with being potentially punished.

7. Transformational Leadership

The transformational leader is visionary, strategic, and capable of stimulating changes in themselves and in their collaborators. The actions promoted by this leadership style generate effective transformations in companies.

These leaders have great communication skills and inspire the team to see beyond the risks. They can easily create a thriving work culture where employees easily adapt to change.

What are the Main Qualities of a Good Leader?

As we’ve seen, there are different leadership styles that can be used depending on different circumstances, however, all good leaders share some key characteristics. Whatever the situation is, a good leader should:

  • Be dynamic;
  • Be charismatic;
  • Foster creativity;
  • Lead by example;
  • Be proactive;
  • Motivate the employees;
  • Value open and effective communication;
  • Foster respect and empathy;
  • Have an ethical conduct.


How to Encourage Leadership Behavior in Your Company?

It’s important to promote the development of leadership skills of the professionals who hold management roles in your company. Good leaders are vital for the individual and collective growth of a company. A good leader knows how to delegate tasks, take risks, and put the company’s values into practice, always trying to develop the team’s skills.

But being a leader is a process of constant improvement, so investing in training is absolutely essential.

By investing in leadership training, organizations are not only helping to increase the skills of their managers and consequently guiding their teams towards greater productivity and cooperation, but they are also shaping the perception of leadership of employees who aspire to management positions based on their manager’s examples.

The 7 Key Leadership Styles – Final Remarks

Good leadership is directly related to the development and growth of both the team and the company. There are several leadership styles, all of them with different benefits depending on the moment the company is going through.

Regardless of the type of business leadership in place, being a leader implies being in a constant state of development and qualification. Only in this way is it possible to keep a team continuously inspired and motivated.

If your tech team needs to grow so that your results also grow, count on KWAN as your outsourcing partner.

Contact us and together we will evaluate your team’s needs and find the most suitable profiles!