A recent study indicates that only one in ten people have the skills to be a good manager. Knowing your leadership style can help you harness your strengths and avoid potential pitfalls, making you a more effective leader.

Here are 5 popular leadership styles and their effects on employees and the overall work environment.

Authoritarian (Autocratic)

An authoritarian – or autocratic – leader tells their subordinates the what, when, and how of everything that needs done. Most people have had at least one boss who they thought ruled with an iron fist, but this style is actually fairly uncommon. Although an authoritarian leadership style may be beneficial in select situations, it ultimately hinders day-to-day progress and can cause feelings of resentment among team members.


In many ways, a democratic leader is the polar opposite of an authoritarian leader. A democratic leader includes employees in the decision-making process. On one hand, it is beneficial because employees may feel obligated to make sure an idea works if they had a say in the decision to implement it, leading to more engagement. It is also a good way to hear and evaluate all the best ideas in the room. On the other hand, a democratic leader is generally uncomfortable making quick decisions independently, and this can hinder progress.


An affiliative leader puts the wellbeing of employees above anything else. Staff run by an affiliative leader tend to feel valued and appreciated in the workplace, leading to greater overall satisfaction. When employees are happy, they’re likely to stay at their job longer. Low turnover rates are incredibly beneficial for the productivity of an organization. The drawback of this leadership style is that employees could become complacent with constant positive feedback. A balance of constructive criticism is necessary for improvement, and affiliative leaders tend to avoid conflict.


A visionary leader helps their employees to see future goals and remained focused. These leaders are often skilled at “rallying the troops,” and getting everyone in the mindset to achieve tasks. A visionary leader promotes innovation and learning in the effort to reach a common goal. The downside is that pressing problems may get pushed to the backburner if a leader is too focused on what lies ahead.


A coaching leader puts energy into building skills and confidence in their employees. It’s the kind of leader who would teach someone to fish instead of just providing someone with a fish for one meal. With this leadership style, employees are often satisfied in their jobs and driven to succeed. In the long term, a coaching leader can mold a group of competent, experienced individuals. Assuming the leader is capable of teaching and the employees are willing to learn, it is a very effective leadership style.