5 Styles of Leadership

In professional environments, leadership styles play a pivotal role in shaping organisational cultures and team dynamics.

Understanding the diverse possible approaches to leadership is essential for both aspiring and seasoned leaders. Each style of leadership brings its own unique characteristics. Whether you’re a leader refining your approach or an enthusiast eager to comprehend leadership dynamics, this exploration will shed light on the multifaceted nature of effective leadership — and show that not all leadership styles are made equally.


Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple

The populist, often public-oriented face of an organisation, autocracy is one of the most famous styles of leadership. They typically have a magnetic personality and a colourful life story. Autocrats tend to succeed against the odds, giving them the confidence to believe they are capable of anything.

The confidence afforded to autocratic leaders by their narrative means they typically aim to control every aspect of their organisation. For SMEs this can work, but quickly becomes unmanageable for large businesses.

The total authority an autocrat holds often leaves a power vacuum in the wake of their absence. For example, Apple found themselves facing the impossible task of replacing a leader with almost God-like status. Jobs’ autocratic leadership style is responsible for their success, but there are many businesses where a leader’s short-sightedness is responsible for many bad decisions.


Fred ‘the Shred’ Goodwin, former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland blamed for its downfall in 2008

Kleptocrats are bad eggs, and are bad for business. Kleptocracy is one of the worst styles of leadership, concerned primarily with personal gain. The type of leader to award themselves a large bonus whilst freezing pay or making mass redundancies, kleptocrats mistake making money for doing good business.

The obsession with personal wealth common amongst kleptocrats often leaves a track record of poor organisational performance, bankrupt businesses, and jobless employees.

If the head of an organisation is thinking more about their own bank balance than the business accounts, they do not have a good leadership style.


Lucas Papademos, economist and former Greek politician 

Technocratic leadership styles thrive in stable environments. Neither seeking to be the face of a business, nor to line their own pockets, a technocrat is concerned with ensuring a business is running smoothly.

Technocrats are often popular, due to their consistency and reliability. Risk is never on the agenda with a technocrat, as their attention is always on making sure the organisation is stable enough to survive.

Unlike other styles of leadership, technocrats may be ousted or usurped by leaders more willing to make vast changes or take gambles.


Many popular political figures, such as Bobby Kennedy 

Democratic leaders could be considered the best of both worlds. Borrowing lessons from the autocratic and technocratic styles of leadership, a democrat will make decisions based on the needs of the business and their employees.

Having typically worked at all levels of an organisation before gaining power, democrats can often be well-rounded leaders with a deep understanding of the mechanisms and issues a business faces.

Employees often rate democrats as the best to work under, combining management skills and practical experience for a multifaceted leadership style.


The VPs of most major corporations

Aristocrats are typically vain and fame-obsessed, more interested in their position than their responsibilities. When asked what their job is, they will usually lead with their title as opposed to what they or their company does.

Similar to kleptocracy, aristocratic leadership styles are concerned with personal gain above all else, typically with as little effort as possible. Salaries, bonuses, and memberships for executive clubs are the primary professional goals of an aristocrat.

However, unlike a kleptocrat, the aristocrat style of leadership does little damage to their organisation. An aristocrat does not seek genuine power or responsibility, and they are known to delegate most of their work — limiting the negative impact they can have on the business.

The 5 Styles of Leadership: Which One Are You?

Leadership is a multifaceted concept encompassing various styles.

The 5 styles of leadership explored in this blog post offer a comprehensive overview, illustrating that effective leadership is not one-size-fits-all.

Keep in mind that leaders must adapt their approach based on organisational goals, team dynamics, and the challenges at hand. Aspiring leaders can draw inspiration from these diverse styles, recognising that successful leadership involves flexibility, and that unsuccessful leadership comes from a lack of concern.

By understanding and embracing these various approaches, leaders can navigate the complexities of leadership, fostering positive business cultures and driving sustained success.

Matt Beswick

Co-founder of Aira and Blush. Marketing / tech geek. Husband. Dad of two. Enjoyer of bourbon, cookery, computer games, and things that go fast.