The 3 Most Common Leadership Styles for Entrepreneurs

Discover your leadership style that fits your purpose and learn how you can switch to other styles depending on the situation.

Top 3 Leadership styles

A good few leaders say that one should choose one leadership style that matches one’s character. I can argue that each style has a significant effect in one area and an unsuccessful outcome in another. 

As Daniel Goleman says “The best leaders don’t know just one style of leadership–they’re skilled at several, and have the flexibility to switch between styles as the circumstances dictate.” 

Learning one leadership style and wishfully thinking that you can tackle all areas of your entrepreneurial or personal life with 100% success is delusional. But learning all of the leadership styles and pivoting towards the right style based on a specific scenario proves to be the most effective approach to producing positive results.

It’s clear that using one leadership style is not enough to become a successful leader. 

Now let’s look at the leadership style that fits your personality and learn to use the other styles if situations require it.

The Top 3 Leadership styles

1. Autocratic leadership style

Also called: Authoritarian leadership

The autocratic leader makes all the decisions and has the final say and most of the time does not take input from his followers on how the idea can be strategized especially if the vision is a complex innovative idea that can’t be understood until brought into existence. The vision is so only on the mind of the leader so he rarely allows advice from the group he has control over.

Example of A Successful Autocratic Leader

Elon Musk Is a great example of an autocratic leader. With his unique vision, goals, and creative mind. He can’t help but not take input from his followers. And that’s why he’s the CEO of all of his companies because he believes that no one can picture his vision and dream as clearly as he does and they will not be accomplished unless he makes most of the decisions if not all. Even if he takes feedback, he makes sure the solution aligns with his vision.

Other Successful Autocratic Leaders

  • Donald Trump
  • Leona Helmsley
  • Howell Raines
  • Martha Stewart
  • Vladimir Putin

Pros of Autocratic Leadership

  • Offers a chain of clear actions and commands
  • Faster decision making
  • Great management
  • Keeps weak groups on track
  • Employees don’t face high-risk situations

Cons of Autocratic Leadership

  • Can suppress creativity
  • Does not work in all environments where creativity is the key metric of the business
  • Followers feel unease about providing feedback
  • Ignores expertise and creative solutions from followers

2. Democratic Leadership Style

Also called: participative leadership

The democratic leader allows room for feedback and participative group decision-making. He works for the better of his followers and the vision of the company. He believes that the vision can be achieved in creative ways and this leadership style opens the door for limitless possibilities for the success of the company and for the followers to participate in such achievements.

Example of A Successful Democratic Leader

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, falls in the category of a successful Democratic Leader. He focuses on innovation, collaboration, and transparency. Creating a diverse environment where everyone participates in the decision-making and brainstorming sessions has brought game-changing innovative ideas to Google.

Other Successful Democratic Leaders

  • Howard Schultz
  • Mark Cuban
  • Jack Dorsey
  • Oprah Winfrey

Pros of Democratic Leadership

  • Applicable for almost any business
  • Creates strong connectivity between group members
  • The ability to solve complex issues can be less problematic

Cons of Democratic Leadership

  • Not effective in crisis
  • Slow decision-making process
  • Processing all the ideas can be daunting and counterproductive
  • Not all options get valued

3. Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

Also called: Delegative Leadership

The Laissez-Faire leader gives tasks while allowing their followers to make their own decision and manage their own desks. This style of leadership helps followers gain more experience. While the Delegative leader offers unlimited choices on how the job should be done, he also provides them with guidance, consultation, and training if needed, making sure they have all the recourses needed to get creative on how they deal with tasks.

Example of A Successful Laissez-Faire Leader

Warren Buffet is a master at the art of Delegative leadership. He surrounds himself with experienced, trusted, and skilled people making sure they do their job effectively. He offers plenty of mentoring instead of guidance allowing them to take decisions within the vision scope and the results he wants to achieve. In addition, this results in a well-managed portfolio and well-examined freedom to exercise lateral thinking and creative decision-making.

Other Successful Laissez-Faire Leaders

  • Paul Allen
  • Steve Jobs
  • Robert Noyce
  • Andrew Mellon

Pros of Laissez-Faire Leadership

  • Employees are involved in the decision-making and the flow of work
  • Employees are leaders at the same time
  • It boosts employees’ moral
  • It encourages innovation, personal growth, and implementation of employees’ experience.

Cons of Laissez-Faire Leadership

  • Employees may need mentoring
  • This style may not be good for less experienced employees
  • Followers take responsibility, therefore puts them in high-pressure  
  • It can create a comfort zone if the followers are not buying into the vision


Even though the leaders we’ve discussed before seem to use one leadership style, but, this is not often the case. Some situations require different leadership approaches. As John C. Maxwell says “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”

In addition, a company may have different departments and each one of them may use a different leadership style based on the projected desired outcome expected from each department.

As an entrepreneur, you may stick to one leadership style that suits your vision, but it’s a plus to know more leadership styles so you can adjust according to the circumstances. In conclusion. A great leader is one who knows how to combine all leadership styles that matches his vision and the desired results.

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