Skip main navigation

Different styles of leadership

Let’s take a closer look at some different styles of leadership from around the world and how you can begin to develop your own style.
A manager leads a relaxed team meeting
© CIPD

In the previous article we looked at some of the fundamental aspects of management. Now let’s take a closer look at some different styles of leadership and how you can begin to develop your own style.

Situational leadership

One of the most influential styles of leadership is that of the ‘situational leader’. This was developed by Hersey and Blanchard.

Many new ideas around leadership stem from this theory. It suggests that no single leadership style is best. Instead effective leadership is focused on the task your are undertaking. It also suggests that successful leaders are those who adapt their style to the individual or group they are leading.

It is a useful reminder to be ready to adjust your style to fit those you are looking to lead or to influence.

Empowering your team

As you develop your style, a further model that may be of interested is ‘Intent Based Leadership’. This was developed by David Marquet.

Marquet advocates empowering your team to think for themselves rather than simply act as followers. This useful video summarises his ideas in a case study of his own experience.

Intent-based leadership works in many settings. It encourages employees who have the right level of knowledge to go ahead and make technical decisions. It also encourages leaders and managers to empower these employees to do so. The model builds on situational leadership but rather than focusing on the manager, it focuses on each individual, allowing them to make decisions about the situation.

Although Situational Leadership is an older model, it sits comfortably alongside more modern thinking which focuses on people development.

It is clear that organisations today – with technology, with remote working, with the economic need to be more agile – are more suited to people-focused, flexible types of management and leadership.

Management styles around the world

When you are thinking about your management style, not only do you have to think about different situations but also consider where you are in the world and the different nationalities of your team members. This is particularly important if you are managing a virtual team across geographic boundaries and cultures.

Think about how your role as a people manager would differ if your team was based in New York or Paris versus Dubai or Singapore. What would a great manager look like in these locations? How would it be different?
Management and leadership styles can be viewed through different lenses in different cultures. For example in some cultures hierarchy and autocracy may be important or in others a democratic approach where team members are consulted before decisions are made may be preferred.
As a starting point it is important for us to be aware of our own cultural context as a manager and any bias first, as we may have a style that helps or hinders us and that we will have to adapt in line with our organisation’s workplace culture as well.

Developing your own style

When it comes to developing your personal management style, you will gain much from doing your own research. There are huge numbers of management and leadership models out there to discover. As you can see from this article there are many different leadership models, old and new, that still have relevance today.
In your research it may be helpful to simply explore a model that appeals to you. Investigate it, ask questions of it, think about your context and team, and then challenge your own thinking from your team’s perspective.
There is no one way to manage people, that much is clear! ___
Take some time to research the styles of leadership that interest you most and then consider how you use these to develop your own style and build great relationships.
How can you offer time for regular listening, for conversations, for stories and idea sharing? Being able to answer these questions will be a great help in finding your own style.
© CIPD
This article is from the free online

People Management Skills

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education