A Guide to the Pros and Cons of Leadership Styles

In the business world, leadership styles can vary and they can vary significantly. Each comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. The effectiveness of a leadership style often depends on the organisational context, the nature of the work, and the preferences of the team. Here are several common leadership styles, along with their pros, cons, benefits to companies, and employee preferences:

1. Autocratic Leadership:

  • Pros:
    • Quick decision-making.
    • Clear direction and accountability.
  • Cons:
    • Limited employee input.
    • Reduced creativity and innovation.
  • Benefits:
    • The autocratic’s can be effective in crisis situations and when quick decisions are needed.

2. Democratic (Participative) Leadership:

  • Pros:
    • Inclusive decision-making.
    • Fosters creativity and team engagement.
  • Cons:
    • Decision-making can be time-consuming.
    • Challenges in situations requiring swift action.
  • Benefits:
    • Builds a sense of ownership and commitment among team members.

3. Transformational:

  • Pros:
    • Inspires and motivates teams.
    • Encourages innovation and creativity.
  • Cons:
    • May be perceived as overly visionary and lacking in practicality.
    • Requires a high level of energy and charisma.
  • Benefits:
    • Drives positive change and long-term growth.

4. Transactional Leadership:

  • Pros:
    • Clear expectations and rewards.
    • Well-defined structure and processes.
  • Cons:
    • May stifle creativity.
    • Relies on extrinsic motivation.
  • Benefits:
    • Effective in stable and routine environments.

5. Servant Leadership:

  • Pros:
    • Emphasizes empathy and support.
    • Fosters a positive and collaborative culture.
  • Cons:
    • May be seen as overly lenient.
    • Challenges in situations requiring assertiveness.
  • Benefits:
    • Builds strong, loyal teams with a focus on service to others.

6. Laissez-Faire:

  • Pros:
    • Encourages autonomy and creativity.
    • Suitable for highly skilled and self-motivated teams.
  • Cons:
    • Lack of direction may lead to confusion.
    • Can result in a lack of accountability.
  • Benefits:
    • The Laissez-Faire leaders will be effective when they are managing experienced and independent professionals.

7. Coaching Leadership:

  • Pros:
    • Focuses on individual growth and development.
    • Strengthens relationships and trust.
  • Cons:
    • Requires time and dedication.
    • Not suitable for all types of tasks or teams.
  • Benefits:
    • Enhances employee skills, engagement, and long-term performance.

8. Charismatic Leadership:

  • Pros:
    • Inspires and motivates through personal charisma.
    • Captures attention and fosters loyalty.
  • Cons:
    • Relies heavily on the leader’s personality.
    • May lack substance or practicality.
  • Benefits:
    • Effective in energising teams, especially during challenging periods.

Employee Preferences:

Employee preferences can vary based on factors such as the nature of the work, the team’s composition, and individual preferences. However, many employees tend to appreciate leaders who demonstrate a mix of styles, adapting their approach to the specific needs of the situation and the team. Styles that involve collaboration, clear communication, and opportunities for professional growth are often preferred.

In practice, effective leadership often involves a combination of styles, known as situational leadership, where leaders adjust their approach based on the context and the needs of their team. The ability to flexibly employ different leadership styles can contribute to a well-balanced and adaptable leadership approach.


At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework
please get in touch with our Managing Director, James Cumming.