What is your leadership style?

Are you a micromanager or a hands-off boss? Your leadership style will depend on different factors.

Published: June 22, 2015
Updated: February 19, 2017

You're the boss for a reason. You have a passion for your business, you have ideas, and you like to lead. But how you manage your employees will vary based on everything from your personality to the type of business you run.

How do you know what type of leadership style to use? For some business owners, leading comes naturally. They like to give directions, to be in charge, and to micromanage employees. Others are more collaborative and listen to employees while still proving guidance. Still others are hands-off, relying on employees to run the show while they take care of big-picture things like forming partnerships or inventing the next hot gadget.

Leadership style #1: Autocratic

Autocratic leaders — also called authoritarian leaders — are firmly in charge. They make all or most decisions, rarely rely on employee feedback, and remain tightly in control. These days, this leadership style is generally seen as the least effective, although it can be mixed with other leadership styles to achieve results.

Pros of autocratic leadership:

  • It can be effective when decisions need to be made quickly.

  • It discourages employees from slacking off, which improves productivity.

  • It can streamline work and eliminate layers of bureaucracy.

Cons of autocratic leadership:

  • It does not encourage effective communication.

  • Employees might resent it.

  • It's a short-term solution.

Leadership style #2: Participative

Participative leaders are democratic. They seek employee feedback, give guidance, and foster collaboration. This leadership style is often considered the most effective. While participative leaders encourage teamwork, they still have the final say.

Pros of participative leadership:

Cons of participative leadership:

  • It can be time-consuming.

  • It can appear indecisive.

  • It can offend employees whose ideas aren't implemented.

Leadership style #3: Laissez-faire

Laissez-faire leaders — also called delegative leaders — offer little guidance and leave decision-making to employees. This leadership style can be effective in certain situations, but leaders should be careful about when and how they use it.

Pros of laissez-faire leadership:

  • It can boost morale because employees feel empowered.

  • It encourages employees to develop their own leadership.

  • It frees up time for the manager.

Cons of laissez-faire leadership:

  • Some employees might not have the skills, experience, or motivation to make decisions.

  • Deadlines may be missed.

  • It can lack cohesiveness.

Focus on one leadership style, or use a mix of the three styles to help your business succeed.

Learn more about finding the right structure for your business.