Democratic Leadership: Effective Strategies, Pros & Cons and Characteristics

Democratic leadership encourages everyone to participate, share ideas and work together. Let's deep dive into the strategies of effective democratic leadership.

A manager needs to have effective leadership skills to practice democratic leadership. It starts with giving everyone a chance to voice their opinions and have a balanced approach towards decision-making.

This article will show you how democratic leadership works in the modern world of business, where any company that aspires to greatness needs to find some way to bring its people together and make them a united force. We will talk about the effective strategies you can adopt and then move on to the pros and cons of democratic leadership. But first let’s start with the basics.

Democratic Leadership Style

What is democratic leadership?

Democratic leadership is, above all else, an approach of trust, transparency and team effort. When you are practicing democratic leadership in your workplace, you are taking into account the views of your entire team before making any significant decisions. This philosophy of management encourages participation, recognition and sharing of information in an organization that aligns employees with the organization's objectives. 

The benefits derived from working with a democratic leader are numerous, but one vital thing is the sense of belongingness. Everyone finds their voice in the atmosphere created by this style of management. Offices become fun places to work instead of dull working zones where everyone does what is told and does not voice their opinions.

Democratic Leadership helps create a culture of mutual trust and respect which goes beyond individual insecurities. As an organization leader, it’s okay to say “I don’t know” because it shows that you are willing to learn from those around you. Creative Projects that use democratic leadership tend to work better as they are optimized for the most novel solutions to win. Employee engagement, productivity and collaboration increases when everyone has a voice in making decisions as well as planning and executing. 

Democratic leadership is an effective alternative to authoritarian management in any situation, but it’s especially important when the full abilities of employees are needed. For this reason, democratic leadership is best suited to companies with projects that require a lot of employee creativity and innovation. It’s just one of the many options that managers have at their disposal, and there may be others that are a better fit for certain situations.

Effective Democratic Leadership Strategies For Every Manager

Before diving into action, we will understand the objective of the exercise. Ask yourselves if democratic decision-making style suits this project the best.

Is it right for you?
What is the end goal?
Who are the stakeholders?
Is the process important for outcome?

If your answer to the questions is yes, then you should move ahead with a participative style of decision-making.

First, you need to make sure that your employees understand the need to be united and work in unison with the primary goal in mind. This will build trust and a heightened sense of cohesion among your employees. Once you are confident that people are on board and willing to promote the democratic style of leadership, you can then go ahead and carry out the tasks at hand. You might have one or two leaders who will not hesitate to act as a boss or a manager would but rather serve as facilitators. Their role is to prevent conflicts from festering in small groups. 

Note that this style of leadership is not intended for those with power hungry tendencies otherwise it might create confusion and lead to destructive propaganda among other employees. Second, you also have to understand that if employees feel that they have ownership over the things they do, they will be all the more motivated to complete your projects. On the other hand, it’s not a good practice to just tell them what needs to be done and what time deadlines are for. Lastly, your employees want to be involved in the decision-making so make sure to listen.

Here are some other pointers that will help you apply the democratic leadership style at work.


1. Communicate with your employees

The single most important aspect of executing a democratic leadership style at work is communication. From the early stages of leadership, let employees know what your vision for the business is and what your employees' role in accomplishing this goal is. Let them know where they are extremely critical to the process and always keep them in the loop throughout the decision-making process. It is also essential to keep them updated on the company’s goals for the near and long term future. This will allow your business to grow as a team because everyone will be on the same page and working toward a common objective. 

Success of this leadership style comes down to how clearly you communicate goals, deadlines and expectations. A leader shouldn’t push the team to achieve tasks, but inspire them to be ambitious. Also, a leader should encourage all voices during the execution phase. People that participate in decision-making are more committed to their goals and will work harder to accomplish them because they have contributed with their ideas and opinions.

Success of this leadership style comes down to how clearly you communicate goals, deadlines and expectations. A leader shouldn’t push the team to achieve tasks, but inspire them to be ambitious. Also, a leader should encourage all voices during the execution phase. People that participate in decision-making are more committed to their goals and will work harder to accomplish them because they have contributed with their ideas and opinions.

2. Be transparent

Being transparent in a democratic leadership style is vital to assuring your team members that decisions are made based off a meritocracy. Be honest, give your opinion, and respect everyone’s input. The goal of democratic leadership style is for the team to work together as one cohesive unit in order to accomplish the project’s goals.

3. Ask for commitment and ownership

Make sure your employees have complete understanding of the problem and make them feel that they own the solution. Most of your employees don’t want to be micromanaged. They want to have a measure of autonomy and freedom. They must take ownership of the goal and then be allowed the freedom to explore different ways to achieve it. At the same time, a leader must ensure that all ideas are heard, valued, and contributed as appropriate throughout the organization. Being inclusive allows your team or audience to feel like they are part of something bigger than just their role at work or in life.

The key to success therefore, is to ask your employees for their full commitment and ownership. This will ensure that they live up to the expectation you have set, and it will help them come through with their promise of performance. More importantly, it will enable them to realize the need for a new way of doing things, and offer them a sense of direction and strength in their respective roles.

4. Learn from your mistakes

Mistakes are vital in order to learn and grow. Decisions made in a democratic style might not prove to be panacea to your problems, but that doesn't mean you should discard the method. You need to huddle with your team, retrospect what worked, what you can do better and iterate the process until you have found the sweet spot of effective decision-making.

What are the qualities of a democratic leader?

1. Communication (Good listeners)

Communication is the most important skill a leader must have. If people cannot understand a vision or goal clearly, they will fail when it comes time to implement it.  In a democratic style of decision-making a subset of communication becomes all the more significant; Listening.

A good democratic leader is an honest one, who listens to the employees and shares their ideas lucidly with them. Democratic leaders also involve everyone in group discussions, drive the team to achieve their objectives, involve everyone in planning their future and motivates them to do better.

If only leaders and managers would take the time to listen, they might find out a lot of things that can help them improve. They also might see problems or situations that are destructive to productivity and morale before they have a chance to spread and nip it in the bud.

2. Unbiased

Unbiased nature is a quality representative of a democratic leader—as it indicates an absence of favoritism, personal bias, and this is a trait that is appealing to all. When a leader is biased or has the tendency to be biased in most of their actions, it makes them ignorant and gives an inclination to act in poor judgment. An unadulterated leader is unbiased and is willing to hear both sides of any opinion before making a decision on something.

3. Creative and innovative

Creativity is a very important quality of a democratic leader. It is the originality of mind that makes the leader creative and it directs them towards finding their own solutions to problems. A democratic leader must also be appreciative of and open to new ideas, provide opportunities for creative thought, listen to all staff and accept new suggestions on how to do things differently.

4. Empathetic

Empathy is an essential part of developing a trusted relationship with your team members. It can be difficult to lead if you don’t have the interest of your employees in mind. Democratic leaders who are empathetic typically work better with their teams and garner mutual respect by being a good listener and creating a trusting environment. If you want to be effective as a democratic leader at your workplace, empathy is one characteristic that you can never do without.

Advantages of Democratic Leadership


1. Innovation

The key to innovation at the workplace is democracy. Innovation is a fundamental aspect of every successful business organization. It can be achieved if the leader is more active and creative in leading the team. By being democratic and sharing power with each employee, innovation gets a great boost. The output of employees changes drastically when they have a say in what's going on around them. Democracy creates a culture where the best ideas win.

2. Productivity

A democratic leader encourages a free exchange of ideas and opinions between all team members so that every individual who is a part of the company works in complete sync. Democratic leaders also bring self-confidence and intrinsic motivation in the workers.

They remove politics from rules and decide everything based on how it will affect others. This adds value to their team through better decision-making. It reduces conflicts, fights and tensions at workplace as everyone gets a chance to air out their views and opinions. The team ends up working as one unit with a common goal for success that can be easily accomplished. This in return boosts productivity.

3. Builds a bonded team

In an efficient democratic leadership system, all individuals are treated equally and are given the opportunity to contribute their ideas to the leader. This will result in creating a bond between the leader and employees and help boost the camaraderie at the workplace. Hence, with democratic leadership embraces equality, democracy, and respect among employees. This will improve employee engagement and help in team building.

4. Keeps mental health of the team in check

Democratic leadership is a form of leadership where employees are encouraged to participate in decision-making and execution. Democratic leaders promote workplace values like equity and public good that treat workers equally, whereas autocratic managers tend to focus on achieving their personal goals. Benefits of democratic leadership include greater job satisfaction, reduced turnover and absence rates, increased creativity and better problem-solving skills among employees. All these factors lead to increased staff morality and improves relationships among coworkers, resulting in decreased burnout and stress.

Shortcomings of Democratic Leadership

1. Slower decision-making process

It is observed that the democratic decision-making leads to the delay in the decision-making process, compared to authoritarian structure of management. A democratic structure of organization involves a lot more task-related activity within an organization. It gives opportunity to people to have their own opinion. Everyone's views and suggestions are considered by the leader which leads to decision-making on a consensus building basis. However, many HR consultants say that slow decision-making and some consensus seeking behavior of democratic leaders is a good thing since it reduces the error variance and provides more time for learning from experience.

2. Relies too much on employees taking ownership

One of the major shortcomings of democratic decision-making compared to centralized decision-making is lack of ownership. It is difficult to get people to take complete ownership when several others are involved in the process. It becomes tempting to offload some accountability to fellow team-mates. This is a corollary of "bystander effect" in the workplace.  This is not necessarily a fatal flaw as long as the structure you choose for your organization gives you some form of accountability outside the democratic process this is an inherent limitation to democratic process.

3. Dissent

The long-term consequence of having too much dissent may result in a failure to reach a decision on the issue that the group was originally trying to decide. Group members spend so much time on negotiations that they don't have enough time left to decide what to do about the problem at hand. They agree on everything except on the one thing (the decision) that should be agreed upon. The frustrated group then ends up doing nothing and thus accomplishes nothing.

4. Not suited for crisis management

The history of democratic decision-making or the quest for better management in public organizations has taught us that the notion of crisis is fundamentally incompatible with the idea of democracy. In crisis management, executives don’t have time to discuss and negotiate the best solution with their team. Within minutes the executive must make a decision that will impact their organization for the next several months or years. As much as we would like to believe that democracy and transparency are suitable for every situation, most of us know better.

Democratic Leadership Style

Autocratic Leadership

What is Autocratic leadership?

The autocratic leadership style is the complete opposite of the democratic leadership style. This is because here, the leader of the group makes all the decisions without considering the opinions of the group members. There is little or no delegation of authority as the leader is considered to be the sole authority on almost all matters. This is why this leadership style or model is also known as authoritarian or authoritative leadership style.

Strategies for Autocratic leadership in organizations

While the autocratic leadership is usually seen in a negative light, it is sometimes needed in certain situations. In such cases, it is best to approach the situation carefully and use the following strategies to properly implement autocratic leadership in your organization:

  • Trustbuilding: An autocratic leader, if well trusted by their subordinates, can be successful in their endeavors. This can be done by being reliable and consistent in practicing what you preach in terms of rules and goals.

  • Motivation: Autocratic leaders are known to only reprimand and never reward, which leads to a lack of motivation in employees. Thus, make sure to appreciate and reward your subordinates as well as dole out the appropriate punishment, wherever absolutely necessary.

  • Communication: Communicate clearly with your subordinates when assigning responsibilities and duties, and establish clear rules and boundaries so that they may follow them better.

Pros and cons of Autocratic leadership

There are many advantages to the autocratic model, if it is properly applied. These include faster decision-making and easier recovery from crises because the leader has all the control and does not have to spend time considering others’ opinions. It can lead to improved productivity and efficiency as well as more discipline within the organization.

The disadvantages or shortcomings of autocratic leadership style are that it leads to stunted growth of employees due to lack of creativity, input, and ideas. This can eventually lead to an unfavorable work environment, which is why this approach is only suitable for the short-term.

Traits of an Autocratic leader

An autocratic leader has many traits and not all of them are bad. Since they have to make fast decisions, they have to be extremely self-confident and decisive in difficult situations. They need to be dependable and responsible for their subordinates to trust and follow them.

When does Autocratic leadership work the best?

Autocratic leadership is mostly seen in organizations that are constantly under change or departments that require strict discipline due to safety regulations. It is also used quite often during crisis situations where there is no time for a participative leadership style, but also in small businesses with few employees and the sole employer managing them all.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

What is laissez-faire leadership?

In the laissez-faire (meaning “let it be”) leadership style, most of the control is in the hands of the subordinates instead of the leaders, who only guide and motivate wherever necessary but allow the subordinates to use their own creativity and skills to solve problems without micromanaging them or getting too involved.

Strategies for laissez-faire leadership in organizations

Following are some strategies to implement or improve the laissez-faire leadership style in your organization:

  • Incentivization : Use of proper incentives can help motivate group members to perform well without their leader micromanaging them.

  • Observation: Laissez-faire leaders should always observe their employees so they know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and oversee the progress, albeit from a distance.

  • Feedback: Leaders should ask for regular feedback and try to resolve any problems that come up so that the employees do not feel abandoned and directionless if they need help.

  • Role clarity: Employees should be told exactly what their roles are, and should be given the tools and authority they need to achieve their goals

Pros and cons of laissez-faire leadership

If applied carefully and properly, this leadership model has many merits such as high productivity and personal growth of employees as they have to use their own decision-making skills to achieve goals. Similarly, because of less red tapism, there is faster decision-making and more innovation in the organization, leading to a positive work environment.

Since it is a peculiar approach, it does have quite a few disadvantages such as low accountability or lack of role clarity because of a very low involvement by the leader, and since they play a very important role in team-building, it can also lead to low group cohesiveness. If unchecked by the leaders, there can be an overall lack of motivation and loss of structure within the organization.

Traits of a laissez-faire leader

Although a laissez-faire leader is not very hands-on and allows the employees to make most decisions, they still have to be responsible for their employees’ actions. They have to be very trusting and confident in the abilities and skills of their employees, but still have amazing problem-solving skills themselves.

When does laissez-faire leadership work the best?

The laissez-faire leadership model works best in the creative field where micromanaging is not very effective and the employees need to have a certain degree of freedom and authority. Similarly, groups made of people who are very experienced and skilled in what they do, will also thrive under this kind of leadership.

Strategic Leadership

Strategic Leadership

What is strategic leadership?

The strategic leadership style is characterized by the leader’s efforts to achieve, along with their team, all the long-term goals of the organization by translating them into short-term goals with the help of specific strategies. Leaders use incentives, allocate resources, and allow their employees to be productive and independent so that they may achieve their own goals as well.

Strategies for strategic leadership in organizations

The following steps can be taken to implement a more strategic approach in your leadership style:

  • Understanding the organization’s mission:  This is necessary because the leader needs to first visualize long-term goals, only then will they be able to proceed with short-term goals.

  • Setting short-term goals: The leader should translate the long-term goals into more achievable short-term goals and create a detailed plan of exactly how to achieve them.

  • Communication:  Next, a strategic leader has to communicate these plans to their employees, assign roles and responsibilities, and motivate the subordinates to achieve the goals.

Pros and cons of strategic leadership

There are many advantages to the strategic leadership model. Organizational goals are fulfilled more efficiently because of the strategic approach and there is role clarity for the employees as they know all the whats, whys, and hows of their work. It also encourages unity and commitment within the organization as everyone is working towards the same ultimate goal.

Just like every other model, there are also many demerits to this approach as it can be expensive and time-consuming to continuously plan for the future, which cannot always be correctly anticipated, so it is also uncertain. It can also become rigid at times and prevent organizational growth if risks are not taken.

Traits of a strategic leader

A strategic leader has to be prudent or forward-thinking in their actions as well as be disciplined in their actions. They have to be articulate when interacting with their team and thus, be a good communicator. They should also be innovative and creative in their problem-solving.

When does strategic leadership work the best?

Strategic leadership style works best in many kinds of organizations, but particularly large ones such as a university, a non-profit, and companies. It is used by top management to work towards the organization’s ultimate mission, which is often in vague terms. Using a strategic approach, they can develop detailed plans of action, allocate resources, and direct and motivate their employees to work towards the goal.

Transformational Leadership

What is transformational leadership? 

Transformational leadership style is where leaders motivate and inspire their employees to constantly innovate and find creative ways to solve problems and meet goals. These leaders highly value their employees’ opinions and instead of micromanaging their employees, they let them make their own decisions once they are fully trained and have sufficient knowledge and expertise in the field. It is also often referred to as the transitional leadership style. Affiliative leadership style is also commonly associated with it due to the many characteristics they share.

Strategies for transformational leadership in organizations

Transformational leadership is tricky to properly put to use, but the following pointers may help:

  • Intellectual Stimulation: Transformational leaders need to start challenging the status quo and allow their group members to have open conversations about the purpose they serve by working in the organization and allow them to be creative and make mistakes.

  • Individualized consideration: Leaders need to realize that while incentives and motivation are important, not every employee wants the same thing. It is important to find out what motivates each employee to let them truly flourish.

  • Idealized influence: Transformational leaders should try to influence their employees by becoming the ideal leader and highlighting the importance of values and ethics in their actions.

Pros and cons of transformational leadership

The pros of transformational leadership style are that it leads to more creative employees that are united towards the same effort and thus, may save turnover costs for the organization. Since it gives so much emphasis to innovation and creativity, this approach encourages positive change in the management.

The cons to this approach include high costs and increases the risk of unwanted change in the organization. The employees may burn out sooner and affect overall performance in the long run.

Traits of a transformational leader

A transformational leader needs to be a creative person themselves in order to lead their employees in the same way. They need to be considerate and compassionate in order to truly connect with their team and understand their needs. They also need to be strategic in their actions and focus on the big picture. You can further understand this leadership style with examples of Jeff Bezos (CEO, Amazon) and Barack Obama (former U.S. president) who led their teams in a way that gave them confidence as well as helped them achieve goals.

When does transformational leadership work the best?

Transformational leadership tends to be used most often in industries where change is constant and a lot of creativity and innovation is required to tackle new problems. This mostly applies to the IT industry, but it is also used by leaders of the education and healthcare industry.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional Leadership

What is transactional leadership?

The transactional leadership style focuses on the transactional aspect of the relationship between the employer and employee by rewarding the employee when they achieve a target and punishing them when they fail to do so. Employees are assigned roles with rules and instructions that must be followed under a clear chain of command.

Strategies for transactional leadership in organizations

Many organizations use this leadership style in the following ways:

  • Assigning clear roles: Transactional leaders assign clear duties and responsibilities to their employees, as well as give them definite goals or targets to achieve.

  • Establishing a chain of command: A chain of command is established that puts everyone in the organization in a hierarchy, that is, in a relationship of superior and subordinate.

  • Establishing control: There is a high degree of control in this type of leadership style. Transactional leaders will keep a close check on the activities of employees to see if they are achieving their goals or not and take required action.

Pros and cons of transactional leadership

An obvious advantage of transactional leadership is effective goal achievement. There is also clarity of roles for the employees and the reward-reprimand system serves as great motivation. (Source)

Although it is one of the most commonly used leadership styles in management, it has many flaws. It inhibits personal growth of employees and creates a rigid environment as they are forced to stick to the rules without much deviation. There can also be a lack of motivation among employees in the long term.

Traits of a transactional leader

A transactional leader is rarely creative and tends to be more practical in their approach. They are often rigid and disciplined in their behavior, and focus on short-term goals rather than long-term goals. Such a leader will also want to keep things as they are and be opposed to big changes.

When does transactional leadership work the best?

Transactional leadership can work well in most organizations where goals can be clearly defined and monitored, as well as in those where not much change is anticipated. It would not work as well in creative fields where employees need some degree of control.

Coaching Leadership

What is coaching leadership?

The coaching leadership style is all about motivating employees to achieve goals while focusing on their strengths and helping them improve their weaknesses. It pays particular attention to the employees’ personal growth. With the help of regular feedback and constant guidance, a coaching leader tries to help the employee reach their full potential. It is commonly associated with the supporting leadership style and servant leadership style because of many similar characteristics.

Strategies for coaching leadership in organizations

You can use the following strategies to implement the coaching leadership style in your organization:

  • Connect with employees: Establish a connection with your employees by building trust. Consider one-on-one sessions and asking for their opinions on important decisions. You will also find out their strengths, weaknesses, and what they value most in life, which will help you motivate them better.

  • Feedback: Getting constant feedback from your employees and acting on it will make you more approachable and trusting but it is also important to give continuous feedback to the employees about their performance.

  • Follow-up: Following up with employees on their progress can help the leader in achieving organizational goals and the employee in their personal growth by receiving constant guidance and support from a mentor.

Pros and cons of a coaching leader

There are many merits to this leadership style. Coaching leaders constantly encourage employees and thus, boost morale and build a positive work environment. This approach also leads to efficient goal achievement along with personal and professional development of employees.

While it is mostly a positive leadership style, there can be demerits to it as it is a time-consuming process to train and mentor employees. In the long run, if the leader only focuses on the development of the employee, the big picture can be lost and goal achievement may take a back seat.

Traits of a coaching leader

A coaching leader has to be an excellent mentor and guide to the employees. They are creative and focused on personal and professional growth of employees by the means of skill enhancement or they believe in the potential of employees. They are trusting and compassionate as they try to understand exactly what drives each member of their team.

When does coaching leader work best?

Coaching leadership works best on employees that have not been properly or fully trained and need a mentor to guide them. It is also suitable for organizations that are well-established and can afford to spend time and energy on the development of employees.

Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic Leadership

What is bureaucratic leadership?

The bureaucratic leadership model consists of a clear chain of command and hierarchy, and employees following strict regulations regarding their work and behavior. It is different from autocratic leadership as employees’ opinions are valued but the authority rests solely with the superiors, who are not willing to go against the organization’s rules and policies. It is characterized by division of labor, hierarchy, and impersonality.

Strategies for bureaucratic leadership in organizations

If your organization is suited for bureaucratic leadership, then these strategies or characteristics might be useful for you:

  • Specialization: Bureaucratic leaders assign tasks to those employees who are best suited for the task so that there will be maximum efficiency and productivity. (source)

  • Hierarchy: There is a clear hierarchy in the organization, that is, a chain of command that describes the authority-responsibility relationship between superiors and subordinates.

  • Impersonality: Bureaucratic leaders rarely focus on the personal growth and needs of an employee but believe in the overall success and goal achievement of the organization. 

Pros and cons of bureaucratic leadership

Bureaucratic leadership in an organization can bring stability and effective achievement of goals by removing any confusion and providing everyone with role clarity

On the other hand, this leadership style can also lead to a rigid environment and extreme specialization of jobs can lead to quicker burn out and stifled creativity among employees. Going through the chain of command for every decision can be time-consuming and result in a slow decision-making process.

Traits of a bureaucratic leader

A bureaucratic leader is one who prefers a rigid structure over innovation and change. They will prioritize rules and policies over the personal growth of employees. However, such leaders are also strong-minded and hard-working.

When does bureaucratic leadership work the best?

Bureaucratic leadership is preferred where rigid structures are necessary such as government agencies or the military. It is also useful for the purpose for which it was developed by Max Weber during the Industrial Revolution, that is, in large factories.

Visionary Leadership

What is visionary leadership?

Visionary leadership is focused on the long-term mission and vision of the organization but also acknowledges the importance of personal growth of employees. Collaboration and teamwork are key characteristics in the process of reaching the end goal. Employees are often encouraged to come up with new solutions, thus stimulating creativity and innovation. This style of leadership is commonly seen these days and is considered to be similar to strategic and transformational leadership style of management.

Strategies for visionary leadership in organizations

There are many strategies that you can use to create a more visionary leadership in your organization. Here are some of them:

  • Understanding the mission: For a visionary leader to focus on the mission, they will need to first understand it themselves and express it into achievable goals and targets that the employees can work towards. They will need to be familiar with the company’s values and the direction in which to lead others.

  • Communicating: Once the leader understands the vision and mission of the organization, they will need to communicate it to their team in a charismatic and inspiring way. Motivating employees at this stage is very important as they will not completely buy into the company’s vision unless they believe in it themselves. 

  • Connecting with the employees: A visionary leader will encourage employees to play to their strengths while also improving in the areas they are weak in. A great way to do this is collaboration and a leader can organize team-building activities and projects that people with complementary skill sets can work together.

Pros and cons of visionary leadership

There are numerous benefits of visionary leadership that make it one of the most popular leadership styles. It leads to motivated employees that strive to achieve targets and always pay attention to the big picture. Similarly, it creates a positive work environment as employees also experience personal growth along with success for the organization.

However, there are also a few disadvantages to this approach that should be kept in mind while applying this style. With the focus on the big picture, short-term goals may suffer. There is also the risk of the long-term goal becoming unrealistic in certain cases, leading to employee burnout.

Traits of a visionary leader

A visionary leader is forward-looking and optimistic in their approach, and charismatic and inspiring in their communication. Such a leader has to be responsible for their team while also allowing them to enhance their own skills. They also have to be creative in their problem-solving method as they have to deal with people and direct them in the desired direction.

When does visionary leadership work best?

The visionary leadership style works well in many types of organizations and at all levels of management. It can be very useful when an organization wants to change significantly in their operations or otherwise and is struggling with putting that long-term plan into action. However, there should always be resources and time available for the employees to develop and enhance their skills as well.

Pacesetting Leadership

What is pacesetting leadership?

The pacesetting leadership style consists of the leader setting the pace of achieving targets for the employees by being quite involved in the work, thus setting an example for them to do the same. The leader then expects the same or better results from the employees and will even help them if they encounter a problem or are unable to fulfill the targets by themselves. Employees are given proper training before they are considered up for a task, at which point the leader gradually becomes less involved.

Strategies for pacesetting leadership in organizations

The following strategies can be helpful in applying pacesetting leadership in organizations:

  • Setting the pace: A pacesetting leader always leads by example and thus, should first set the pace by demonstrating to the employees how everything has to be done and being very personally involved in the whole process.

  • Clarity of role and expectations: Under the pacesetting leadership style, employees are given clear explanations regarding their role in the organization and exactly what is expected of them, individually as well as together as a team. 

  • Taking initiatives: A pacesetting leader will not only quickly identify when their team isn’t performing well, but also take the initiative to actively help them in meeting their deadlines. If an employee is consistently failing at meeting their targets, the leader may also consider replacing them.

Pros and cons

Pacesetting leadership style is known to give fast results due to employees continuously working to exceed expectations and leaders helping them as well. It leads to role clarity among employees and better communication regarding expectations. The pacesetting approach also challenges and engages employees, leading to their personal growth and skill enhancement.

At the same time, this leadership style can also be too challenging for employees in the long run and they may have a hard time coping, leading to employee burnout. Since employees are constantly expected to deliver good results within deadlines, it can bring about a negative work environment that is full of high pressure.

Traits of a pacesetting leader

A pacesetting leader is a dedicated and self-motivated person who is good at communicating to the employees their role and expectations. They are observant and often take initiative to solve a problem they notice before waiting for someone else to point it out.

When does pacesetting leadership work best?

Pacesetting leadership style works the best in high stakes and high pressure situations where targets or goals are time-sensitive. It also is suitable for a team that loves challenges that can enhance their skills. This leadership style can also be applied when employees are taking up a completely new project and need to be shown exactly how it is to be done. 

Situational Leadership

Situational Leadership

What is situational leadership?

Situational leadership style involves using different kinds of leadership styles according to the skills and maturity levels of the employees and the unique situation at hand. This is because different employees need to be coached or directed in a certain way and some projects that everyone does not have much experience in require much more involvement by the manager than projects that the team has worked on before many times. This approach allows you to customize your leadership according to the need of the situation.

Strategies for situational leadership in organizations

According to the situational leadership theory, there are four kinds of leadership styles. Following are the types of leadership and employees’ maturity levels that can help you decide which approach to use in what situation:

  1. S1 or Telling is where leaders use an autocratic or bureaucratic approach and constantly supervise and tell employees what to do and exactly how to do it. It is used when employees do not have much experience and may still be in the training stage or unwilling.

  1. S2 or Selling is where leaders use a coaching leadership style (servant) and communicate more with the employees about their role and the organizational goals. It is used when employees are willing to take responsibilities but require some amount of coaching.

  1. S3 or Participating is where leaders use a democratic or participative leadership style and allow employees to have a bigger role in decision-making. It is preferred when employees are quite experienced but lack the willingness or motivation to take on the work.

  1. S4 or Delegating is where leaders use a laissez-faire approach and let the employees make almost all of the decisions themselves, with the leader being least involved. It is possible when employees are well-experienced, capable, willing, and enthusiastic regarding the project.

Pros and cons of situational leadership

Since it is such a dynamic approach, this leadership style has many pros. It is flexible and greatly increases productivity and efficiency of the organization’s operations. It also puts the focus on the employee’s strengths and helps them develop their skills. Thus, it can also help create a positive work environment.

There are also some disadvantages to situational leadership as it can lead to confusion in cases where the manager switches up the leadership styles too often. It is also too dependent on the leader’s ability to correctly assess the kind of leadership an employee needs. There is also too much focus on short-term goals and long-term goals may take a back seat.

Traits of a situational leader

A situational leader has to be observant so that they can understand the situation and what their employees need and be flexible enough to be able to change their leadership style accordingly. They should also be an amazing coach who is inspiring and motivating.

When does situational leadership work best?

The best thing about the situational leadership style is that it can be used in pretty much any organization, field, or industry. It is also useful in small businesses where situations change quite frequently and employees may have varying needs regarding leadership depending on their skills and experience.


At its core, democratic leadership is about equality and equity. Using a democratic structure to run an organization means that everyone has the chance to speak their minds, share their ideas, and work together to make decisions.  A leader must possess certain skills to carry out effective democratic leadership in the workplace. It’s easy enough to see how this could be beneficial in an organization and why it might be necessary to create a consistently safe and healthy environment where people can be open with their thoughts.


  • Leaders can be pivotal to an organization’s success and equally important is the kind of leadership style that they choose to implement within their team. 
  • Choosing a leadership style depends on a lot of factors, such as the type of organization you’re working in, the kind of work, as well as the kind of team you have under you. 
  • Leadership styles can range from the most directing and controlling to the most supportive. While a democratic or participative leader takes into account the views of the team, an autocratic or bureaucratic leader does not.
  • The transformational leadership style or coaching leadership style pays more attention to the employee’s personal growth along with company goals by motivating them to enhance their skills. 
  • The situational leadership style involves taking into consideration the uniqueness of each situation and the team’s capabilities and then deciding a leadership style that is the most suitable.

Read more:

16 Qualities That Make You A Good Manager

10 Tips on How to Improve Employee Onboarding Experience

8 Ways Managers Can Support Multicultural Teams


Why is democratic the best leadership style?

Surprising as it may be to hear, the highest performing companies are the ones that have implemented a democratic leadership style. Democratic leadership allows everyone to have a say in their company’s mission and their day-to-day work. When your employees feel like they have control over their own work environment and feel like they can make an impact on the company, they will be more motivated to do well. Democratic leadership is not only successful when it comes to management and employee relations; studies also show that these companies tend to attract more customers, which greatly increases the profit potential of any business.

How does democratic style of leadership help motivate employees?

If you want to inspire people and get the best possible results from your workforce, democratic leadership is the great way to go. By encouraging everyone to take an active role in decision-making and management, you are more likely to get more engaged employees. Ultimately, it is up to you whether you favor the democratic style of leadership or the traditional one—the real key is that the more people feel valued, the better they will perform. The key to success here is not just to give people the right to speak their minds – it is also to reward those who share their views. There are also a few things you can do to help increase the number of people who contribute ideas, such as rewarding their contributions for everyone to see. Companies that score the highest on these democratic leadership scales have higher productivity, lower turnover, and higher rates of innovation.

What is democratic leadership pros and cons?

Not only does democratic leadership encourage a participatory culture within an organization, but it also develops the personal qualities of everyone on the team. When everyone can participate, there is room to grow and everyone can help solve complex problems. But it does come with its cons. Decision-making can be time-consuming and there might not be a common consensus leading to uncertainty among groups.

Where is democratic leadership effective?

Democratic leadership seems to work best in situations where everyone plays an important role, such as small businesses. Moreover, democratic leadership can be successful for larger corporations as well since a focus on innovation and collaboration can make for an effective company culture. If a company does not treat their employees like valuable assets and discourage hierarchy, then it might be hard to foster meaningful dialogue or get people to collaborate with each other. Unfortunately, most large companies choose to encourage the hierarchical mentality that doesn’t work well in this kind of environment.

What leadership style will be applied by the entrepreneur?

Running and growing your own business while managing a team of employees can be tough, especially for a small business that sees countless changes in a small period of time. An entrepreneur, before deciding their leadership style, should first think about the kind of leader they want to be and how they want to grow their business. That is how they will find which leadership style is the best for them.If you are just starting out and can’t afford to hand out control to other people, you could describe your leadership style as autocratic. However, this is not sustainable in the long term and you might have to switch to a more democratic leadership style (participative) or transformational leadership type to retain your employees while still growing and expanding your business. 

What leadership styles are used within that organization?

There are many types of leadership styles used within an organization but here are some of the most commonly used and known by managers all around the world:

  • Democratic Leadership 
  • Autocratic Leadership
  • Laissez-faire Leadership
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Transformational Leadership
  • Transactional Leadership
  • Coaching Leadership
  • Bureaucratic Leadership
  • Visionary Leadership
  • Pacesetting Leadership
  • Situational Leadership

All these styles involve different strategies and ways in which leaders could lead their team members or employees towards a common goal. To decide which of these to use for your team, you will have to first figure out what is your leadership style and what your organization and employees need. 

How does leadership style impact organizational culture?

There are many reasons why leadership skills are important for organizations but leadership styles are equally important for the organization’s culture. This is because it is a leader who instills the culture of the organization into the employees as they are the ones who motivate, inspire, and encourage everyone to go in the desired direction by explaining and selling to them the vision of the organization. They uphold the values of the company by enforcing workplace norms and creating a work environment that is conducive for all parties involved. In a similar way, it is the organizational culture that impacts leadership styles as well. If the culture within an organization is to only focus on goals and targets, it is likely that the leaders in that organization will use the autocratic or bureaucratic leadership style instead of a transformative or a coaching leadership style.

What leadership style is best for change management?

Leadership is perhaps the most important factor in the success of all change initiatives within an organization or its management. A leader’s job is to guide and direct employees on a certain path towards organizational success and with change management, this task becomes even more important as with everything changing, it is more difficult to retain employees as well as the credibility of the organization. A leader encourages the employees to identify with a new mission and vision and in this case, the transformational leadership style can be the most efficient. A transformational leader will motivate the employees, inspiring them to innovate and work towards a common goal. They can do this with the help of incentives and rewards as a transformational leader is familiar with each employee’s individual needs and what they value most.

What leadership style does Elon Musk use?

Elon Musk has a bold and innovative personality who works hard to see his ideas come to life. While there isn’t one single leadership style that he uses, there is agreement that he has used a combination of several or used many of them depending on what the situation asked for. These include the autocratic leadership and transformational leadership style. What both these leadership styles have in common is the leader’s desire and ability to see the big picture and motivate their employees to do the same.

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