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Blog post 03 Nov 2021

3 Leadership Styles and How to Identify Your Own

3 Leadership Styles and How to Identify Your Own

An organisation's success is largely due to the way it is being managed. Nowadays, there is a lot of focus on the organisational environment, hence the need for a suitable leadership style that responds to the organisation's shared culture. Solidifying the common goal and motivating and influencing everyone involved to work towards it are key steps to positive results. The Institute offers Project Leadership & Management Diploma course that will transform you to become a better leader by examining the capabilities, attitudes and behaviours that a leader needs to possess.

If effective, the management style can have significant effects on the organisation itself - it can help increase productivity, enhance morale, encourage workers, make a positive contribution to the company and so on. But the leadership style has to be suitable to the companies needs in order to bring success, and that is when recognising which leadership style becomes very helpful.

The research of leadership styles began as far back as 1939 when Lewin, with a group of other researchers, identified three major leadership styles: Autocratic, Democratic and Laissez-faire or “let it be” leadership.

These three styles were the foundation for further explanations and more modern and broader approaches. There are a variety of categorisations, but all of the varying leadership styles have common factors they depend on - like managers personality, knowledge and experience, employees who are being supervised and their responses, and lastly, but most importantly, the company traditions, values, philosophy.

To sum it up with a quote from Mullins – “leadership is how a manager decides to behave with their employees or subordinates and how they exercise the leadership role.”

Seeing as the style of leadership and organisational output are strongly related, effective leadership style is seen as a powerful source of sustained competitive advantage and development.

If you wish to determine which of these three leadership styles might be your most dominant one, the Institute of Project Management offers this short quiz to help. Upon completion, you will receive more detailed information about each style.


Autocratic leaders provide the team with clear instructions. They are the ones deciding on the distribution of the tasks as well as goals that need to be reached, without much input from the other employees. They give out awards and punishments according to the rules and procedures they designed. Autocratic leaders typically make choices based on their own ideas and judgments and rarely accept advice from others which sometimes involves absolute, authoritarian control over a group.


Democratic leadership, also known as participative leadership, is a type of leadership style in which group members take a more participative role in the decision-making process. Researchers have found that this learning style is usually one of the most effective and leads to higher productivity, better contributions from group members, and increased morale.


Laissez-faire leadership, also known as declarative leadership, is a leadership style in where leaders are hands-off and allow group members to make decisions. Researchers have found that this is generally the leadership style that leads to the lowest productivity among group members.

This type of leader does not have clear goals and does not help the group make decisions, which puts too much burden on the group. It is most suited to an organisation where employees have a good understanding of their roles, a high degree of trust and do not blame each other for mistakes


  • Goonewardena, Viraj Prasanna. Leadership Style, Job Satisfaction and Employee Job Performance of Managerial and Non-Managerial Employees: a Case of Sumithra Group of Companies. Diss. Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, 2017;
  • Gorchani, Abdul Nabi, et al. "Dimensions of leadership and management in educational institutions: a theoretical and conceptual framework." Asian Journal of Management Sciences and Education 6.1 (2017): 37-46.