Discerning The Different Types of Leadership Styles

AIL Leadership HighlightThis week’s leadership message is from American Income Life Regional Sales Director Steve Kafkis. Steve challenges us to ask, “Is my style of leadership effective?”

American Income Life Region Sales Director Steve Kafkis

American Income Life Region Sales Director Steve Kafkis

In business, there are many different types of leadership styles that a leader can choose to implement. Different leadership styles may be better suited in different situations, depending on your agency’s goals. Ultimately, choosing the right type of leadership style is pivotal: in the simplest terms, it can help to determine the success or failure of your agency.


There are three main types of leadership styles. They are autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire leadership. Below is described what they are, their pros and cons, and when they are perhaps best implemented in the business world.

Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership (a.k.a. authoritarian leadership) is a type of leadership whereby the leaders make most or all of the decision-making, without the input or involvement of their management team. Autocratic leaders instruct their 2nd line management on what needs to be done, along with how it should be done and when it needs to be done by. If a manager or staff member suggest something, it is likely to be disregarded or simply ignored by this type of leader.

Pros:This type of leadership style works well in industries and companies where quick decision-making is key, where there isn’t time to consult with staff for their input anyway. It is also effective on members of staff who may not have the skills or “know-how to manage” their own workloads.

Cons:Staff can feel ignored and unimportant, which can affect motivation and employee satisfaction. Creativity can also be negatively affected, as members of staff are not given room to innovate.

Best used: When getting the job done in a particular way is more important than creativity and staff participation.

Democratic Leadership

Democratic leadership (a.k.a. participative leadership) is a leadership style that gives some decision-making powers to the group, insofar as they are consulted and asked for their input by the managers. In the end however, the leaders still retain the overall decision-making power.

Pros:With team involvement, the team will feel more wanted and important, improving productivity in this way. They may also make recommendations that the leaders might otherwise overlook.

Cons:The decision-making process is slowed down, particularly if the team/staff disagree with the overall view or final decision of the leader.

Best used: When creativity is a more important factor than simply being told what to do.

Laissez-faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leadership (a.k.a. delegative leadership) is a fairly laid-back leadership style, giving complete decision-making power to the managers and staff. It is pretty much up to them to manage their workload, while the leaders neither interfere nor closely monitor what they are up to.

Pros:Laissez-faire leadership grants independence, and for that they will feel important – it is a big responsibility for them to make the decisions themselves and to be in charge of their own work.

Cons:Productivity is at risk of plummeting if this particular leadership style is used on those who could do with more guidance and direction. It may also backfire, as it may look like the leader is simply lazy or cannot be bothered to lead effectively.

Best used: This type of leadership style may only operate best on managers and staff who are independent and responsible on keeping on top of their work, as well as at a particular skill level where they do not need a push from above.

So which style of leadership are you using, and is it effective?

About Mark Ting

Mark Ting is a Staff Writer at Torchmark Corporation, writing about American Income Life and National Income Life Insurance Companies. Google+

What did you think about this post? Don't forget to leave a comment.