How Do The 8 Leadership Styles Differ In Communication?

Explore the traits, strengths and weaknesses of the coaching leadership style, democratic leadership style, transformational leadership style and others!

For any group, organization, or institution to progress sustainably, there must be some sort of leadership and followership. Not everyone can be a leader.

Everything is conversation. In order for an organization’s leadership to be sustainable, there needs to be effective and quality interactions between both leaders and employees.

How leaders choose to lead their team impacts how effective the flow of communication is, and consequently the success of the organisation. This is why it is important to uncover the prevalent style of leadership in a workplace.

In this article, we will be finding out how different leadership styles vary in workplace interaction, and why certain styles of leadership tend to communicate better in a team setting.

What Do We Mean By Leadership Style?

A person’s style of leadership is known as the methods and techniques through which they instruct, direct, motivate team members, and execute team plans in a bid to achieve the ultimate goals of the organization.

Different organizations or teams require different types of leaders. That’s why it’s crucial to apply the right leadership or management style in any given group if effective communication must take place. Using the wrong leadership approach in a group will not only disrupt information flow but will be counterproductive in the overall performance of the group.

This brings us to the next question: what are examples of leadership styles? Let’s explore the 8 most relevant styles of leadership obtainable in different organizations today.



LEADERSHIPSTYLES Coaching Leadership Democratic Leadership Transformational Leadership Transactional Leadership Servant Leadership Laissez-Faire Leadership Bureaucratic Leadership Charismatic Leadership


Uses an assertive communication style to pass information across to team members and allows feedback Uses a horizontal communication approach where there is level ground for everyone to work together towards achieving the team goal  Combines an assertive and aggressive communication style to get their points across as long as change (transformation) is achieved. Communicates with employees aggressively in a bid to achieve the expected level of productivity Uses both horizontal and upward communication approaches to interact with fellow employees and the management respectively. Adopts a passive communication style  Uses formal communication style to relate with team members Uses informal and assertive communication styles to influence followers


Allows team members to express themselves and listen actively Team members are allowed to share ideas and contribute opinions but the leader has the final say in harmonizing these opinions. Inspires team members to be change-driven and encourages rapid transformation in the system. Mainly driven by results and performance, doesn’t allow individual opinions, and is clear on the expectations, rewards, and punishments. Employees’ (servants’) feedbacks are critical for the organizational decision making Trusts employees to conduct themselves and use their creativity and experience to meet organizational goals Management is clearly structured and authority is based on hierarchies, rules, and regulations  Inspires and influences followers using exemplary qualities 
COLLABORATION STYLE Allows collaboration and partnership among team members. Every team member is expected to engage/participate in the process. Every team member is expected to be focused on the task at hand  Every team member is meant to follow the outlined orders and must reach the expected target. A cohesive culture exists among employees in a very supportive workplace  Workers should be responsible and accountable, hence can make certain decisions based on their relative expertise. Roles are clearly defined with each team member playing their specific roles to achieve the organizational goals. Followers are deeply bonded to the leader and are passionate to follow in his footsteps




Team members can think out of the box at times. Creativity is highly appreciated and rewarded. Creativity is highly appreciated and new ideas that can result in transformation are highly welcome There is zero tolerance for creativity. The servant’s creativity is crucial in creating a strong connection with customers Individual creativity of workers is key in achieving organizational goals.  No room for creativity since everyone must stick to the rules and due process. Creativity is leader-centered as followers  are more interested in pleasing or emulating the boss

listening skills

1. Coaching Leadership Style

A coaching leadership style looks to establish a culture of enhanced performance via collaboration, support, guidance, empowerment, and fulfillment. Coach leaders are typically inspired to bring out the best in group members via support and collaborative efforts. This is a sharp contrast to the traditional management style which restricts the full potentials of group members by relying on command, control, and force.

The coaching leadership style also harmonizes coaching philosophies, mindsets, and attitudes, to yield the most accomplished type of leadership and trigger the highest performance. In other words, a typical coaching leader would inspire his group to believe in themselves, make the right decisions, arrive at the right answers, and reach their greatest height. The assertive communication style of the leader allows him to get his points across to his team members while also allowing them to express themselves.

Some observable traits and skills of the coaching leadership style include:

  • Collaboration and partnership
  • Active listening skills
  • Trust and safety
  • A robust belief in potential
  • Feedback skills
  • Questioning skills (asking powerful but guided questions)
  • Intention
  • Self-awareness
  • Guidance and support
  • Learning & development

Strengths Of Coaching Leadership Style

The coaching style is one widely used leadership model in the world, thanks to the high level of results it engenders amongst employees.

Some benefits of working with a coaching leader in a company include the following:

  • A coaching leader encourages a two-way interaction pattern
  • They create a positive organizational culture
  • Coaching leaders focus more on collaboration and partnership
  • They are typically supportive and not judgemental
  • They identify the strengths and weaknesses of an employee and inspire them to become a better version of themselves
  • They create room for learning, creative thinking, and growth within the group.
  • A coaching leader promotes both personal and professional development of employees
  • The coaching style of leadership also encourages lots of feedbacks

Limitations Of Coaching Leadership Style

Although coaching is a widely adopted leadership model across the world, there are a few situations such an approach can raise serious concerns.

Some important disadvantages of the coaching leadership style are

  • Coaching leaders require lots of energy, time, and patience to arrive at meaningful results. You can imagine the number of resources training hundreds of employees — while maintaining focus and commitment to every one of them — would take. Of course, the entire process will be overwhelming.
  • Coaching is not quite effective for a business culture that involves high pressure and fast results.
  • Without good employee vs leader chemistry, coaching can become counterproductive.
  • Coaching only works when the group members are committed to the process.


democratic leadership style

2. Democratic Leadership Style

The word “democracy” is arguably the most popular term as far as a management style is concerned. A democratic leadership model is that which allows members of a team to participate actively and make meaningful contributions in the decision-making process. Although the leader has the final say on most decisions.

Researchers have noted that this leadership style is highly productive in both business and professional settings. This is because it provides a platform where leaders and employees can meet, discuss, and resolve issues with everyone making their respective contributions. With that, any decision made by a democratic leader is often people-oriented.

In a company where the democratic leadership style is prevalent, ideas and opinions are shared between leaders and employees to ensure that nobody is left out. That’s why the employees of a democratic-leadership company have increased morale. The main role of the leader, however, is to provide direction and ensure the goals and objectives of the team are being pursued.

The democratic style of leadership typically applies a horizontal communication approach where everyone works at the same level and contributes to achieving the team goal.

Some observable traits and characteristics of a democratic leadership style are

  • Team members are allowed to share ideas and opinions, although the leader has the final decision to make
  • Creativity is allowed and rewarded
  • Engagement and participation in the process

Aside from these three important characteristics of the democratic leadership styles, experts believe that managers and leaders with such a style are marked by impeccable honesty, courage, and intelligence. Democratic leadership style is also characterized by respect, fairness, and equity. They typically develop and inspire the followers’ trust in the process.

Strengths Of The Democratic Leadership Style

Some benefits of the democratic leadership style are

  • Democratic managers trigger followers to stay committed to projects, leading to better individual and team performance in a company or business.
  • Democratic leaders inspire more ideas and creative solutions
  • High level of honesty, fairness, and equity
  • High level of participation
  • Bolsters team relationship and morale
  • Can be applied in virtually any company or business setting

Limitations Of The Democratic Leadership Style

Some downsides to the democratic leadership style are as follows:

  • It can result in unnecessary delays, red tapes, and procrastination can develop.
  • If applied wrongly, this leadership approach can result in uncompleted projects and stunted development.
  • Goals and approaches to achieve goals are often poorly defined
  • Multiple opinions and ideas can create confusion when poorly harmonized
  • Members may not have the required expertise to make quality contributions to the process of decision-making.
  • There is no guarantee that this approach can develop sustainable solutions


transformational leadership style

3. Transformational Leadership Style

Transformational leadership is another related leadership style that looks to inspire workers to welcome change by cultivating a culture of ownership, accountability, and autonomy.  A transformational leader works with followers to get beyond their immediate self-interests and identify the needed change.

This management style develops a vision to guide a workplace transformation through influence and inspiration — and executing the transformation together with committed group members.

Transformational leaders motivate their workforce without micromanaging — they entrust trained employees with the responsibility of making critical decisions in their assigned job. It’s a management style that is primarily established to offer employees more room to be imaginative, stay focused on the future, and discover new solutions to old problems. Transformational leaders combine an assertive and aggressive communication approach to get their points across. They expect and demand change when necessary.

Some important traits of transformational leadership are

  • They entertain new ideas
  • A transformational leader adapts easily and quickly
  • Makes tough decisions
  • Takes the right risks
  • Inspires and motivates those around them
  • Has a proactive approach
  • They are visionary leaders

Strengths Of Transformational Leadership

  • Transformational leadership is a change-driven approach
  • Transformational leadership ensures the group is focused on the task at hand
  • With transformational leadership, turnover costs are greatly reduced
  • Transformational leadership encourages learning and vision
  • Transformational leadership enhances effective communication
  • Transformational leadership boosts morale

Limitations Of Transformational Leadership

  • Transformational leadership encourages lots of risk taking, which may pose a risk of unfavourable outcomes
  • Transformational leadership is not suitable for organizations that are not structured for constant changes


transactional leadership style

4. Transactional Leadership Style

Transactional leadership or transactional management is one style of leadership that is channeled towards supervision, coaching, organization, and performance. Experts believe this type of management may have started during the Industrial Revolution as a basis of competitive advantage.

Transactional leaders typically promote compliance through both rewards and punishments. These leaders only motivate their followers and improve performance in the short run. They typically communicate to workers aggressively in a bid to enforce the expected result.

Some important traits of transactional leaders include

  • Concentration on short-term goals
  • Oppose change
  • Shows support for structured policies, ideas, and procedures
  • They focus on abiding by the rules and doing things correctly
  • Highly inflexible
  • Typically left-brained
  • Revel inefficiency

Strengths Of Transactional Leaders

  • They are clear about their expectations, rewards, and punishments
  • It’s results-driven, performance-oriented, and highly productive
  • The short-term goals are easily achievable
  • Things are usually in order

Limitations Of Transactional Leaders

  • Doesn’t care about the welfare or benefit of workers
  • The inability of training or coaching of workers for better relationships
  • No leadership training, coaching, or development
  • Discourages creativity
  • It’s difficult to find a reward system that carries everyone along, which can affect performance
  • Lack of training and coaching leads to a short-term benefit.


servant leadership style

5. Servant Leadership Style

Servant leadership, simply put, is a leadership style whereby a person interacts with workers (either in a managerial or employee capacity). The specific role of servant leadership is to acquire authority instead of control or power.  Leaders who follow this style may include services-rendering employees who have a close connection with consumers and can make better decisions to retain those customers and attract new ones. Servant leaders adopt a “horizontal” and “upward” communication approach: horizontal in the sense that everyone works on level ground, and upward if the person is an employee reporting back to the management. A servant leader also uses body language to bring messages across.

Some specific traits of servant leadership are as follows:

  • Stewardship
  • Empathy
  • Awareness
  • Listening
  • Persuasion
  • Healing
  • Foresight
  • Conceptualization

Strengths Of Servant Leadership

Some benefits of servant leadership style are

  • An employee’s feedback plays a vital role in the company’s decision making
  • A high level of (workers’) loyalty results in high productivity
  • Cohesive culture and supportive environment

Limitations Of Servant Leadership

  • Adopting this type of management may require a risky cultural change
  • Most companies are not familiar with this style
  • Responsibilities might outweigh a staff member who renders services and answers to employees, customers, and the management.


Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

6. Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

Laissez-faire leaders are known to trust and believe in their employees. They don’t feel too involved or give too many instructions. People working under a laissez-faire leader are free to conduct themselves and use their creativity and experience to meet organizational goals. The leader only gives guidance and takes responsibility where and when needed. Subordinates have the real lead in the organization. These leaders typically apply the passive communication style.

Some traits of a laissez-faire leader are

  • Little or no guidance
  • Followers can feel free to make decisions based on their expertise.
  • Constructive criticism from the lead

Strengths Of Laissez-Faire Leadership

  • A follower-centered approach keeps workers motivated
  • Workers feel trusted and will try not to betray the trust
  • Workers are highly responsible and accountable
  • A highly creative environment

Limitations Of Laissez-Faire Leadership

  • Leaders are less concerned and less involved
  • Lack of direction
  • No clarity of roles


bureaucratic leadership style

7. Bureaucratic Leadership Style

Bureaucracy is another popular type of management in which leadership is based on fixed official duties, rules, regulations, and hierarchies.

Both the leaders and followers are answerable to the system and hence must adhere to the stipulated work ethics.  Leaders only communicate to followers based on a system of behavioral and technical principles that define the extent of their authority. In other words, bureaucratic leaders are more inclined to use a formal communication style while relating to team members.

Some traits of bureaucratic leadership are

  • Management is well structured and organized
  • Hierarchies
  • Rules and Regulations
  • System-oriented

Strengths Of Bureaucratic Leadership

  • Roles are clearly defined
  • Rules and regulations eliminate all forms of favoritism
  • Promotes feedback
  • It’s a predictable and reliable form of leadership
  • It’s based on best practices and standards
  • A highly organized form of leadership

Limitations Of Bureaucratic Leadership

  • Involves lots of red tapes and hierarchies that can ultimately delay decision-making.
  • Productivity tends to be slower
  • Doesn’t create room for creativity
  • Adapting to change can be a major challenge


charismatic leadership style

8. Charismatic Leadership Style

Charismatic leadership is a personality-inspired leadership model that combines charm, persuasive communication, and interpersonal relationship, to influence and motivate others. Charismatic leaders typically tap into people’s emotions to create a sense of trust, passion, and purpose that is beyond their personal choices.

Charismatic leaders are known to use informal and assertive communication approaches to influence their followers.

Here are some traits of a charismatic leader:

  • They communicate well
  • They are confident and optimistic
  • They are aware of themselves
  • They feel empathy
  • They are humble
  • They are passionate
  • They have a high level of emotional intelligence

Strengths Of Charismatic Leadership

  • It creates an emotional appeal
  • Considers employees’ feelings and state of mind
  • Can be used as a means of influencing workers positively
  • It creates a strong bond between the leader and followers

Limitations Of Charismatic Leadership

  • Doesn’t support creativity on the followers’ end
  • The whole process depends on the brain and energy of one man: the leader.
  • It can be used for specific selfish ambitions
  • Only a thin line stands between charismatic and autocratic leadership.


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