The style in which you lead impacts the people around you, and in turn impacts the success of a department or organization.  One might think that a particular leadership style is best; however, different situations require different styles of leadership.  Psychologist Kurt Lewin is known for his contributions to defining leadership styles.  His work dates to 1939 in which he identified three leadership styles: autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire.  Lewin’s work was expanded by Max Weber (1947), Robert House (1977), Conger & Kanungo (1998), Robert Greenleaf (1970) and others since and additional leadership styles have been identified.


  1. Routine or unskilled jobs
  2. Decisions requiring quick action
  3. Leadership is needed so employees can focus on their own tasks 


  1. Safety related tasks or work
  2. Work in which specific protocol must be followed
  3. Jobs involving the handling of money


  1. Obtaining buy-in to a vision
  2. Decisions needing employee involvement or input to succeed
  3. Internal crisis management


  1. Employee development and evaluation of their goals
  2. Highly skilled and experienced employees
  3. Implementing operational changes
  4. Resolving employee issues
  5. Encouraging camaraderie
  6. Situations needing input from a variety of perspectives


  1. Leader is willing to monitor and coach employees
  2. Experienced, skilled, and/or educated employees
  3. Employees who take initiative
  4. Outside consultants/subject matter experts
  5. Leader is okay with failure or mistakes


  1. Collaboration is needed to accomplish goal
  2. Decisions which directly affect employees


  1. Values and ideals are of most importance
  2. Listening and empathy is needed
  3. Building a sense of community


  1. Strategic efforts
  2. Managing product, machines, buildings, warehouses etc.
  3. Detail oriented work

Of course, this is just a snapshot of each leadership style.  Before you do anything with what you have just learned, check out these sites to learn more OR contact me to discuss your company’s training needs.

27 Popular Leadership Styles

Hershey-Blanchard Situational Leadership® Theory

6 Leadership Styles and When You Should Use Them

8 Common Leadership Styles