5 Leadership Styles – Which Best Suits You?

All ethical styles of leadership have a place in organizational life, including benevolent dictatorships.

High school football coaches and symphony conductors often require obedience with little discussion.



I ask audiences to think of a famous leader from history. On the count of three, I ask them to shout out that leader’s dominant quality. After the shout out, I ask, “Did anyone near you shout out the same quality?” Typically, no one hears the same quality they shouted out.

We press people into preferred leadership styles, yet there’s vast diversity in the leaders we admire.

The main issue of leadership style is organizational fit and situation. Winston Churchill succeeded, in large part, because he fit the situation he led through.

Leadership styles:


  1. Take charge and tell people what to do.
  2. Fit well in hierarchical organizations.
  3. Work best when roles are highly defined.
  4. Thrive when their expertise meets crisis or pressing challenges.


  1. Seek input and suggestions.
  2. Try to satisfy all parties.
  3. Make many decisions by consensus.
  4. Work well when time allows for their process to work.
  5. Fit well when teams are highly competent.


  1. Work best when purpose is clear, understood, and fully embraced by all participants.
  2. Create environments where talented people work together to produce clear results.
  3. Believe the action is in the interaction.
  4. Tend to guide the process, but not get personally involved in delivering results.
  5. Expect compliance.


  1. Work best when the future depends on word-pictures and dreams.
  2. Possess traits that inspire others to commit and follow.
  3. Require a team of skilled managers to scale and execute the vision.
  4. Tend to dominate interactions.


  1. Work best in transparent organizations.
  2. Share control, usually.
  3. Share responsibility.
  4. Have mutual accountability.

Other styles:

  1. Coach.
  2. Casual.
  3. Servant.

Note: Leadership style is impacted by one’s view and relationship with power.

Which leadership style most suits you? Why?

A Review of Five Leadership Models (Stewards)

Leadership Approach and Model. (University of Minnesota)