Menu Close

Business Leadership Styles

If you think back on some of the managers you have had throughout your career, its likely that you will notice differences in management. There are different leadership, or management styles that managers will adhere to, although the best managers are often flexible in their style. There are six main management, or leadership styles. It is important for business owners and managers to find which leadership style works best for employees and the success of the business.


A directive leadership style is one in which the primary goal is compliance from employees. Managers that are directive often have a “do it how I told you to” kind of attitude and closely monitor employees. Motivation under a directive management style is generally achieved through discipline and oftentimes threats. Directive management tends to work best when there is a crisis within the business or deviations are risky.

Authoritative (Visionary)

With an authoritative management style, the primary goal is to provide long term vision and direction for employees. Authoritative managers tend to be fair but firm and aim to give employees a clear direction. Motivation under an authoritative manager is usually done by providing feedback on performance as well as by persuasion.


With a pacesetting leadership style, the goal is to accomplish tasks that need to be done to a high standard of quality. Often, pacesetting managers try to do everything themselves, and have very high standards for employees. In a pacesetting environment, motivation is achieved by setting high standards and having employees who can direct themselves.


An affiliative leadership style is one in which the goal is to create harmony among employees and managers. People with affiliative leadership styles tend to involve their employees by asking questions, and trying to keep people happy. Affiliative managers usually try to avoid conflict and work to ensure that employees have good relationships with each other. Affiliative leadership is most effective when it is used in combination with other management styles.


With a coaching management style, the main goal is the professional development of employees on a long term basis. People with a coaching style tend to encourage and help employees develop their skills and improve their performance. Opportunities for professional development are a motivating factor with a coaching leadership style.


A participative leadership style takes place with the primary goal of building the commitment of employees. Participative managers tend to welcome feedback from employees and encourages them to provide input on important business decisions. Participative leadership is most effective when employees are credible and are willing to work together.

You leadership style will depend on a number of factors, including your personality, the types of employees that work for you, and more. Being willing to try different techniques and hone your leadership style will ultimately help make you a better manager.