What are the six leadership styles?Different Types of Leadership Styles in Organizations and Management

Leadership Styles in Management

Different types of leadership styles exist in organizations. The nature and culture of an organization are determinative factors on which leadership style fits the organization best. Also, the goals and targets of a company play significant roles in the leadership styles that exist inside it. In this article, we will analyze different types of leadership styles in management and answer the question: What are the six leadership styles?.

Before starting, it is very important to remind who is a leader, who is a manager, and the difference between a leader and a manager.

Leader vs Manager – What are the Differences Between Leader and Manager?

A successful project manager should possess both leadership and management skills to keep his/her team on board to follow him/her towards success. Leadership is related to convince people that your guidance will help them to achieve common goals. On the other hand, management is about administering people and say what they should do or what they should not do.

Who is a Leader?

Leader evokes different things to different people around the world. A leader can be a politician, an explorer, or an executive, etc. depending on the situation.

In business and project management, a leader is a person who is setting a vision for a group of people or who influences a group towards the achievement of a goal.

Simply put, leaders build inspiring visions and create something new. They have futuristic visions and know how to turn the ideas into success.

They have some skills such as below;

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Confidence
  • Inspiring others
  • Communication
  • Decision making
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Empathy

A good leader must possess most of these skills. Especially good communication and decision-making skills are essential for a leader.

Before discussing different types of leadership styles, let’s take a glance at the term “manager”.


In business and project management, a manager is an individual who directs the workforce or controls the resources of an organization in compliance with rules, principles, or values that have been established.

Therefore, a manager coordinates his team member’s duties and routines with authority and power. Some of the managers possess leadership traits and they tend to be leaders. However, most of the managers are not leaders.

In a project, the project manager must carry the skills of a leader because he has to direct and manage his team towards the project goals.

However different types of organizational structures give the project manager different authority and power. For example, in a projectized organizational structure, the project manager has full authority and power over the resources. On the other hand, in a functional organizational structure, the role of the project manager is very limited.

Different Types of Leadership Styles in Organizations

Daniel Goleman, who popularized the notion of Emotional Intelligence, describes six different leadership styles in his book “Primal Leadership” which are visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding. Each style has strengths and weaknesses depending on the situation.

Four of them: Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, and Democratic provide positive outcomes. However, two styles (Commanding and Pacesetting) may create tension. Therefore they should only be used in specific situations.

Let’s analyze them in detail.

Visionary Leadership Style

The visionary leadership style is also known as the authoritative style. When an organization needs a new vision or direction, this leadership style can fit the organization best. Visionary leaders are stimulating and impressive. They move people towards the achievement of a goal.

In other words, visionary (authoritarian) leaders insist on expectations and designate outcomes. People watch a one-person show but this can bring success where the leader is a breed apart from other team members. Especially in time-limited periods, this seems like an efficient leadership style but team members’ productivity is low.


  • Team members spend less time on decision making
  • Hierarchical structure can be clearly defined
  • Errors and losses can be reduced
  • The achieved results will be consistent


  • Employee motivation might be low due to the strict leadership style
  • Team member’s productivity and innovation is low
  • Poor collaboration between team members
  • Group productivity is reduced
  • High employee turnover rate

Coaching Leadership Style

Coaching leadership style helps to connect the people’s goals to the goals of the organization by showing the ways of enhancing their skills and performance. Coaching leaders are empathic and encouraging leaders who make decisions by receiving feedback from the group. Team members and the leader have positive interactions. Coaching leadership encourages employee engagement by improving the motivation of team members. As a result, new ideas may arise regarding the solution to the organization’s challenges.


  • Employee motivation and engagement are high.
  • Team members spend more time with learning and innovation
  • Strong communication and collaboration among team members
  • Promoting a positive organizational culture


  • A lot of time and patience is required
  • Effective coaching requires experience and skills
  • Not suitable in time-constrained periods

Affiliative Leadership Style

Affiliative leaders recognize the importance of teamwork thus they encourage connection and harmony between team members. They solve problems between team members and provide a good workspace. This leadership can be used when the team needs to be motivated and the trust is broken.

Leaders who use this style must focus on team members’ emotions and must be optimistic.


  • Employee morale and motivation are high
  • Affiliative leaders provide positive feedback to their direct team members.
  • Conflicts are reduced within the team because affiliative leaders are capable of repairing relationships.
  • Affiliative leaders help people to recover from their mistakes


  • Sometimes affiliative leaders may tend to avoid dealing with conflicts
  • Underperformer team members may exploit the intimacy of affiliative leaders. This may reduce team productivity.
  • Receiving just positive feedback from team members and offering positive feedback only when working can be misleading.
  • Affiliative leaders tend to blot out the scenarios that make them feel uncomfortable.

Democratic Leadership Style

The Democratic leadership style focuses on collaboration. Team members provide their decisions but the responsibility of making the final decision rests with the leader. People’s knowledge and skills are decisive and effective in the team’s decisions, therefore, team members must be experienced and skilled. This leadership style can be ineffective and dangerous during crisis management when urgent events demand quick decisions.


  • New ideas from the team members may arise while solving a complex problem
  • Employee creativity and honesty are high
  • Improved job satisfaction and collaboration
  • Increases team knowledge


  • Not suitable in time-constrained periods because it takes time to reach a consensus.
  • Team members may question the capabilities and guidance of the leadership.
  • If there is a failure, nobody will take responsibility. Although the decision is taken as a result of consensus, failure lies with the leadership.

Pacesetting Leadership Style

The pacesetting leadership style focuses on performance and asks a lot from the workers. Pacesetting leaders are sure that tasks can be completed better and faster, therefore they expect excellence from their teams. This style may undercut morale and have destructive effects on people’s motivations.


  • Targets are achieved swiftly
  • Team members are skilled and experienced to complete the tasks quickly
  • Problems are solved quickly


  • Team members feel stressed due to intense work pressure.
  • Trust is low within the team.
  • Repetitive work and monotony brings lack of motivation
  • Team members receive very limited feedback
  • Morale and employee engagement is low

Commanding Leadership Style

The commanding leadership (also known as directive) style depends on orders and tight control. It tends to be a military-style leadership. Commanding leaders take complete control and responsibility for a situation. This approach can have a negative effect on a team because people in democratic countries have control over their lives and area of expertise so they don’t want to be under very tight control of a manager.
This leadership style may create tension. Therefore it should be used in crises and specific situations.


  • Rules and expectations are clearly defined
  • Clarifying everything helps to create a system for maintaining safety and meeting regulations.
  • Decision-making process is fast because the leader himself makes all the decisions.


  • The leader must have high skills and experience
  • There is very little collaboration
  • Creativity, employee morale, and engagement is very low
  • Everything is dependent on the leader.


In this article, we discuss six different types of leadership styles which are visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding. These six leadership styles can be used interchangeably depending on the situation. The same leadership style cannot be used all the time. The most successful leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that corresponds to the needs of the organization.

Leadership and management refer to different concepts, however, they are complementary to each other.

Note that leadership styles is an important management concept for the PMP Certification exam. You may encounter a few questions related to different leadership styles in organizations. If you want to add or share anything related to the topic, you can do through the below comments section.

External References
1 Comment
  1. Linda Rochelle 2 years ago

    there’s a style of business leadership to match nearly every personality type and every kind of organization 🙂

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