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What Kind of Leader Are You?

What Kind of Leader Are You?

Although defines leadership simply as “an act or instance of leading,” being a great business leader is so much more than that. It is being able to motivate and inspire both individual employees and teams to take certain actions in order to reach higher levels than they’d ever dreamt possible. It also involves knowing how to best utilize their staff’s strengths while limiting their weaknesses at the same time.

Like pretty much anything else in life though, there is more than one way to be a great business leader. This begins with first realizing what type of leader you are so that you can make it work best for you. So, what type of leader are you?

Well, here are some of the most common leadership styles to consider, as well as how to use them to your advantage, no matter which one you discover you are:


According to SAGE Reference Online, “control is the primary management strategy employed by authoritarian leaders.” This means that, if you are this type of leader, you are likely to want to be the one and only person that dictates all of your small business policies and procedures. You are also probably the person almost exclusively responsible for directing the actions of those that you employ, making sure that they handle everything in the exact way that you’d like.

The benefits of this type of leadership style include being able to make decisions rather quickly and having complete and total control over every aspect of your small business. However, psychology expert Kendra Cherry also points out that being an authoritative, or autocratic, leader can also create problems. For instance, your staff could view you as “bossy, controlling, and dictatorial.” Additionally, because you take on so much responsibility yourself, you miss much of the creativity and value that can be offered by your team.

To make the most of this type of leadership then, you are better off using it in certain situations as opposed to others. For example, suggests that the best time to employ this type of leadership style is when you have little time to get things done, when your team would benefit from more structure, or when things need to absolutely be done right. In situations other than these, you may find that you get better results by loosening some of your control and letting your team take on more of the responsibility.


Participative leaders differ from authoritative leaders in that they rely on the team to help make decisions and come up with solutions instead of doing it all on their own. In the end, establishing relationships and developing rapport are more important to this type of leader than having total control.

One benefit of being a participative leader is that you have access to a larger knowledge and experience base since you use the entire team. This also allows you to draw on each member’s strengths in a way that benefits the company as a whole. Negatives of this type of leadership include that it takes longer to get things done and sometimes dysfunctional team dynamics can prevent your small business from moving ahead.

To gain the most value from being a participative leader, Udemy recommends that you utilize your leadership skills when you’re working on projects that you have some time to complete. Furthermore, if you’re struggling to come up with a solution to a particular problem, this is a great time to use your leadership preference and consult your team to see what possible solutions they can help come up with.


Management Study Guide describes transactional leadership as “motivating and directing followers primarily through appealing to their own self-interest.” Therefore, this is your style if you feel that leading is best accomplished by rewarding positive behaviors and punishing negative behaviors. Additionally, you are likely a transactional leader if you focus on shorter term goals and have a greater attention to detail.

Being a transactional leader has advantages ranging from being able to handle smaller business-related issues to better dealing with employees who lack self-motivation. However, one of the most notable disadvantages of being a transactional leader is sometimes erroneously assuming that your employees will do a great job solely because they will receive a paycheck for doing so (the reward), which isn’t always the case.

If you are a transactional leader, Management Study Guide further states that you will do best implementing this style when handling day-to-day decisions about your company related to issues such as reducing expenses and increasing productivity. It also works well if you have an employee who needs a little extra push in order to get things done.


Transformational leaders are unlike the rest in that, as Mind Tools explains, they are more focused on inspiring their teams. They do this by setting concise goals, providing support and acknowledgment to the team members, and encouraging them to do the impossible. These types of leaders are generally thought of as visionaries who can literally change the world.

Some pros of transformational leadership include helping individual team members reach their maximum potential for the benefit of the business and promoting a positive work environment. A couple cons include a heavy reliance on the fact that your team will do what they should with minimal direction and it requires constant energy and enthusiasm, something that may be in short supply from time to time.

To make the most of this type of leadership style, Changing Minds advises that you come up with a vision and then promote trust and integrity to get your team to help make that vision a reality. This requires being open and honest with your team, as well as jumping in and being willing and able to do some of the work too.

So, what type of leader are you? Feel free to share in the comment section below!

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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.