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What are the most effective leadership styles?

Which are the most effective leadership styles?

General leadership training and management studies have identified many different leadership styles. Out of all these leadership styles, is there any one approach that is more effective than the others?

Before we get into that, let’s have a look at the various leadership styles. Below are some of the mainstream leadership styles taken from general leadership training and management studies.


The authoritarian leadership style is when the leader spends most of his time giving out instructions. This type of leader tells their followers what to do, how to do it and when to do it.

The authoritarian leader exerts high power over the followers and do not obtain the advice or opinions of others. All decisions are made by him and he does not encourage the followers to participate or offer their opinions.

Democratic / Participative effective leadership styles

The democratic leader on the other hand, encourages follower to participate and give ideas. This type of leader allows the others to get involved in the decision making process. The end decision is still made by the leader, but only after respecting and taking into consideration the ideas of the followers.

Laissez Faire (free reign)

The Laissez Faire or free reign leadership style goes a step further than the democratic leader. Totally contrasting to the authoritarian leader, the Laissez Faire leader lets her followers have free reign over the approach, the decision making and basically all aspects in getting the job done.

Final responsibility still lies with the leader.


The charismatic leader has high enthusiasm and is a great motivator of people. He infects others with his energy and belief. The presence of the charismatic leader can be a strong boost to the morale and drive of the followers. The ability to motivate and inspire is the hallmark of the charismatic leader.


The transformational leader uses his vision to inspire and lead others. He is a great communicator who is able to communicate a shared vision very well with his followers. This type of leader delegates responsibilities and spends more time communicating.

Most effective leadership styles

effective leadership styles So after going through all the various leadership styles, which style is actually the best approach to lead? There are a lot of arguments for and against each of the effective leadership styles.

For example, the followers of an authoritarian leader are more prone to having low motivation and morale. They may find it difficult to get inspired because the leader is more impersonal, task oriented, demanding, and not considerate of their opinions.

However despite this, there are situations where an authoritarian leadership style is the most effective. Such as when time is short, when the leader has all the information and a quick decision is needed. Anything other than an authoritarian leader will result in poorer outcomes.

Or let’s look at the charismatic leader. He can be very effective in inspiring his followers, but this may lead to the followers being dependent on the leader. Success may become reliant on the presence of the leader. A sudden absence of the leader can result in the possible collapse of the group.

With all these pros and cons, we can see that none of these leadership styles is the best. To be the best leader, you must be a flexible leader. That is the best leadership style.

Being A Flexible Leader

effective leadership styles What does it mean to be a flexible leader? A flexible leader is a leader who has the ability to use all the various leadership styles, which he chooses depending on the situation.

Where an authoritarian approach is required, he will be an authoritarian leader. Where great vision is needed, he will be a transformational leader.

To be an effective leader, we must master and be able to use the different effective leadership styles whenever the situation calls for it.

Here are some of the situations where a particular leadership style is more suitable;

Authoritarian : Short on time, need to make quick decisions, leader has all the critical information, followers are less capable.

Democratic : Dealing with a lot of information, task involve various fields and skills sets, leader does not have all the information, leader do not have time to analyze everything, followers are capable and/or experienced.

Laissez Faire : For less critical areas/tasks, leader have other more important priorities, followers are specialists in their field, followers are very capable, experienced and independent.

Charismatic : When there is low morale & motivation, when creativity and passion is required to achieve the goal, when circumstances are not exciting, dull and seemingly meaningless.

Transformational : When radical change is needed, when the future is less than certain, when the goal is pioneering or trailblazing new ideas/concepts.

Final thoughts…

A good leader is able to get the best out of her followers and train them to be leaders themselves. Whenever the leadership style that you choose suits the circumstances, you are being a good leader.

Remember these effective leadership styles the next time you are leading.

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