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How to Be an Effective Leader: 8 Styles of Leadership

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

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Howard Schultz Business Leadership

Many adopt a leadership role at some point in their life, whether it be in a workplace meeting, team project, or even in a social setting. Understanding common leadership styles can help you identify your own strengths and weaknesses and become a better leader as a result.



Howard Schultz Business LeadershipHoward Schultz Business Leadership

Former Starbucks CEO shares lessons from nearly 40 years of leading one of the world’s top brands.

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What Is Leadership?

Leadership is the art or practice of motivating a group of people in order to achieve a common goal. Leadership derives from social influence, rather than strict hierarchy or seniority. Anyone with the right skills, regardless of their position in a company or organization, can be a leader.

What Makes an Effective Leader?

Good leaders often possess a combination of various “leadership qualities,” such as creativity, motivation, vision, and empathy. However, the most successful leaders are able to adapt to the needs of different situations, employing their diverse set of leadership skills in order to achieve their goals.

Why Is It Important to Understand Different Leadership Styles?

Understanding the different types of leadership styles can help make you a better leader. Different leadership styles produce different results, and certain people are suited to different styles of leadership. Once you understand what type of leader you are, you will have a better sense of your strengths, weaknesses, and the type of communication that can result in the most effective leadership possible.

The 8 Most Effective Leadership Styles

There are many different styles of leadership that can be effective in achieving goals and motivating team members. Here are some common effective leadership styles:

  1. Democratic Leadership. A democratic leadership style (also known as a participative leadership style) involves the leader soliciting input from each of the team members, considering each person’s opinion before settling on a final decision. This leadership style engages each person in the decision-making process, which can boost group morale, job satisfaction, and engagement.
  2. Autocratic Leadership. In an autocratic leadership style, the leader makes decisions unilaterally, without consulting any of the other group members. Known also as an authoritarian style of leadership, the autocratic style can be helpful when quick decisions must be made.
  3. Laissez-Faire Leadership. The laissez-faire leadership style is a “hands-off” approach to leadership, which involves the manager delegating responsibility and decision-making to team members with minimal interference and supervision. This leadership model can encourage innovation by empowering self-motivated employees to engage with their own passions and interests.
  4. Transactional Leadership. A transactional leadership approach involves offering incentives for effective performance and penalties or disciplinary action for poor performance. A transactional management style can be a particularly strategic leadership approach when you want to achieve specific performance-related benchmarks.
  5. Charismatic Leadership. Charismatic leaders rely on charm and personality to communicate goals and encourage performance. These leaders are particularly adept at inspiring team members to accomplish a shared objective, often through a rallying speech or their infectious enthusiasm.
  6. Transformational Leadership. The transformational leadership style is defined by the leader’s desire to improve upon or “transform” the business or company they work for. Great leaders who employ the transformational style seek to empower their team members in order to streamline or upgrade company conventions. This approach privileges organizational growth above all else, and transformational leadership types often spend a lot of time focusing on “big picture” goals rather than the minutiae of management.
  7. Servant Leadership. Servant leaders place the satisfaction of their employees above all else. They believe that the professional and personal fulfillment of their team members will result in a higher quality of work, and servant leaders place the needs of others above their own.
  8. Bureaucratic Leadership. A bureaucratic leader is a “by the books” leader. They adhere strictly to company policy and tradition, and set clearly-defined expectations for their team members to follow. This is a stable, systematized approach to leadership that can be an effective style in highly regulated departments.
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Want to Become a Better Business Leader?

Whether you’re hiring your first employee or have dreams of making it big in the startup world, running your own business takes determination and hard work. No one knows this better than Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO. In Howard Schultz’s MasterClass on business leadership, the man who rose from a childhood in public housing to leading a company that revolutionized the way the world drinks coffee shares what he knows about growing a 13-store chain into a global brand with more than 250,000 employees.

Want to become a better business leader? The MasterClass Annual Membership provides exclusive video lessons from master business leaders, including Howard Schultz, Anna Wintour, and more.