All businesses need leadership. That being said, this is not just to have a hierarchy of titles and confusing pecking order. True leadership means effectively developing a business. Leaders have incorporated different styles throughout history, some with varying degrees of success. In business, there is a spectrum. When the right leadership style is applied, both people and businesses can grow and thrive together. 

The main types of leadership styles range from being hyper-intense to incredibly laid-back. There are pros and cons to each of them, but overall, the most productive leadership style is a democratic one. This model incorporates the idea that all opinions matter, regardless of title. Everyone has a say in this highly participative environment and all suggestions are considered.  The final say is decided by the leader, but there is a sense of pride and contribution that comes from being validated as part of the problem-solving team.

The next closest leadership styles to democratic would be transformational and laissez-faire. Both of these models rely on participation and collaboration with employees in order to boost morale and to problem solve. The differences are that transformational leadership leaves the actual decision making to the employees themselves. Laissez-faire is even a more hands-off approach, with management letting employees make the majority of the daily decisions while at the same time excluding them from any major company-wide discussions. 

There are some styles of leadership that focus heavily on helping subordinates and stripping away any fear-based motivation. The mentor/mentee dynamic is heavily used in the coaching and strategic styles of leadership. Coaches work to inspire creativity by setting a more relaxed environment. They collaborate with employees to fix issues, rather than place blame, and they frequently encourage feedback and learning. Strategic leaders, on the other hand, are people who inspire others through their integrity, strong work ethic, and superior soft skills. They are known for being good listeners and promoting fairness. 

On the other side of the spectrum, there are leaders who do not rely as heavily on employee participation. Priorities switch over to efficiency and structure, rather than collaboration and creativity. Autocratic leadership is the harshest example, with a single person making all of the decisions at every level, based on their own personal belief system. There is no desired input from anyone else. It’s a follow-the-rules system with zero flexibility.