4 Types of Leadership Styles with Examples: Learn from Legends

4 types of leadership styles with examples

Leadership is a critical element in any organization or team, and understanding different leadership styles can significantly impact how teams are managed and how goals are achieved. In this blog post, we will explore 4 types of leadership styles with examples of leaders who exemplify each style. 

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of these leadership approaches and their practical applications in various contexts.

Also Read: 20 Qualities of a Good Leader: Lead With Impact

4 Types of Leadership Styles with Examples

1. Autocratic Leadership

Definition and Characteristics

Autocratic leadership is characterized by a top-down approach, where the leader makes decisions without seeking input from team members. They have a strong hold on authority and control, making them the sole decision-makers in the organization.

Examples of Autocratic Leadership

Steve JobsThe late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., was notorious for his autocratic leadership style. He was known to make major product decisions unilaterally, expecting his team to follow his vision without question. His approach, while demanding, led to groundbreaking products like the iPhone and iPad.
Henry FordHenry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, was another iconic figure known for his autocratic leadership style. He revolutionized the automobile industry with the introduction of the assembly line, a decision made without much employee involvement.

Pros and Cons of Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership (among all 4 types of leadership styles with examples) can be effective in situations that require quick decision-making and strong direction. However, it can stifle creativity and innovation, and it may lead to employee dissatisfaction and turnover in the long run.

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2. Transformational Leadership

Definition and Characteristics

The goal of transformational leadership is to encourage and inspire team members to realize their greatest potential. Leaders in this style often set high expectations, encourage innovation, and lead by example.

Examples of Transformational Leadership

Nelson MandelaNelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, is a prime example of a transformational leader. He inspired his nation and the world with his vision of reconciliation and equality, leading South Africa out of apartheid and into a new era of democracy and unity.
Elon MuskElon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, embodies the transformational leadership style. His ambitious goals to revolutionize space travel and sustainable energy have inspired his teams to achieve remarkable feats, such as reusable rockets and electric cars.

Pros and Cons of Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership can foster innovation and personal growth among team members. However, it may not be suitable in situations that require immediate decision-making or where the team lacks self-motivation.

3. Servant Leadership

Definition and Characteristics

Servant leadership is centered on the leader’s commitment to serving the needs of their team members first. They prioritize the well-being and development of their employees, which often leads to a more engaged and loyal workforce among other 4 types of leadership styles with examples.

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Examples of Servant Leadership

Mahatma GandhiMahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s nonviolent independence movement, is a notable example of servant leadership. His selfless dedication to the Indian people’s welfare and his advocacy for nonviolent resistance inspired millions and ultimately led to India’s independence from British rule.
Herb KelleherHerb Kelleher, the co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines, exemplified servant leadership in the business world. He prioritized the well-being of his employees, fostering a culture of mutual respect and trust, which contributed to the airline’s success.

Pros and Cons of Servant Leadership

Servant leadership can lead to a motivated and loyal team, but it may not be effective in situations where quick decisions are required, or when team members need strong direction.

4. Laissez-Faire Leadership

Definition and Characteristics

Laissez-faire leadership is characterized by a hands-off approach, where leaders provide autonomy to their team members. They trust their team’s capabilities and allow them to make decisions independently.

Examples of Laissez-Faire Leadership

Warren BuffettWarren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is known for his laissez-faire leadership style. He entrusts his subsidiary companies to operate with minimal interference, believing in the competence of their management teams.
Google’s FoundersLarry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google, employed a laissez-faire approach by encouraging their employees to spend 20% of their time on personal projects. This approach resulted in innovations like Gmail and Google News.

Pros and Cons of Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leadership can foster creativity and independence among team members, but it may lead to confusion or lack of direction if not applied appropriately.

How to Find Your  Leadership Style?

Finding your leadership style is an important step in becoming an effective leader. Your leadership style should align with your personality, values, and the needs of your team or organization. Here are some steps to help you discover your leadership style:

  • Self-Assessment: Start by assessing your own strengths, weaknesses, values, and personality traits. Reflect on your experiences and think about the leadership styles that resonate with you. Consider what kind of leader you want to be and what values are most important to you in a leadership role.
  • Observe Other Leaders: Pay attention to leaders you admire or have worked with in the past. Take note of their leadership styles and the impact they have on their teams. Try to identify elements of their styles that you find appealing or effective.
  • Take Leadership Assessments: There are various leadership assessments and personality tests available that can provide insights into your leadership style. You may learn more about your preferences and inclinations as a leader by taking leadership style tests, DISC assessments, or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
  • Seek Feedback: Consult team members, mentors, or coworkers for their opinions. They might supply you insightful information on how your leadership style impacts the individuals under your direction. You may enhance your approach and uncover areas for progress with the use of constructive criticism.
  • Consider Situational Leadership: Understand that effective leadership often involves adapting your style to different situations and individuals. Some situations may call for a more directive approach, while others may require a more collaborative or supportive style. Flexibility is key to successful leadership.
  • Identify Your Core Values: Determine the values that guide your decision-making and actions as a leader. Your values should align with your leadership style. For example, if integrity is one of your core values, your leadership style should reflect honesty and ethical behavior.
  • Set Leadership Goals: Define your leadership goals and what you want to achieve as a leader. Consider the kind of impact you want to have on your team or organization. Your goals can help shape your leadership style and provide a sense of direction.
  • Experiment and Learn: Be open to trying different leadership approaches and techniques. Experiment with different styles and strategies to see what works best for you and your team. Learning from both successes and failures is essential for growth as a leader.
  • Continuous Self-Reflection: Leadership is a continuous journey of self-improvement. Regularly reflect on your leadership experiences, assess their effectiveness, and adjust your style as needed. Seek opportunities for professional development and learning.
  • Seek Mentorship and Coaching: Consider seeking guidance from experienced leaders or coaches who can provide valuable insights and mentorship. They can help you refine your leadership style and offer practical advice based on their own experiences.
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Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all leadership style, and effective leaders often incorporate elements from different styles depending on the situation. Your leadership style may also evolve over time as you gain more experience and learn from your interactions with others. 

Tips to Improve Leadership Style To Become A Good Leader

Self-Awareness: The Foundation of Leadership

  • Recognize your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Understand your values and principles.
  • Solicit feedback from others.

Effective Communication

  • Listen actively to others.
  • Be clear and concise in your messages.
  • Foster open and honest communication.

Empower and Delegate

  • Trust your team members’ abilities.
  • Delegate tasks and responsibilities.
  • Provide guidance and support when needed.

Lead by Example

  • Model the behavior you expect from your team.
  • Demonstrate integrity and ethical conduct.
  • Show dedication and a strong work ethic.

Adaptability and Flexibility

  • Be open to change and new ideas.
  • Adjust your leadership style to fit the situation.
  • Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

  • Understand and manage your emotions.
  • Show empathy towards team members.
  • Build strong relationships based on trust.

Set Clear Goals and Expectations

  • Define clear, achievable objectives.
  • Communicate expectations to your team.
  • Monitor progress and provide feedback.

Conflict Resolution

  • Address conflicts promptly and constructively.
  • Encourage open dialogue to resolve issues.
  • Seek win-win solutions when possible.

Continuous Learning and Development

  • Stay updated on industry trends and best practices.
  • Invest in leadership training and education.
  • Learn from both successes and failures.


In conclusion, leadership styles play a crucial role in shaping the dynamics of organizations and teams. Autocratic, transformational, servant, and laissez-faire leadership styles each have their strengths and weaknesses. Effective leaders often adapt their style to the situation and the needs of their team. 

By understanding these 4 types of leadership styles with examples provided, you can become a more versatile and impactful leader in your own professional journey.