The 11 Best Situational Leadership Styles

Different Types of Leadership Styles

The 11 Best Situational Leadership Styles

As a leader, it’s important to be able to adapt your style to the situation at hand. Depending on the people you’re leading and the task at hand, different leadership styles will be more effective.

In this article, we will explore the 11 best situational leadership styles and when you should use them. From democratic to autocratic and everything in between, read on to learn more about the different ways you can lead.

1. The Directive Style

The directive style is appropriate when the follower is new to the task, has low confidence, and needs clear guidance and direction from the leader.

The leader provides clear instructions and close supervision, and takes an active role in problem solving. This style is also effective when time is limited and there is a need for immediate results.

When using the directive style, it is important to ensure that the follower feel comfortable with the level of direction they are receiving.

If they feel overly controlled or micromanaged, they will become resentful and may not be receptive to the leader’s guidance.

Additionally, the leader should avoid coming across as bossy or dictatorial. Instead, they should focus on providing supportive direction that encourages the follower to learn and grow in their role.

2. The Supportive Style

The supportive style is all about creating a supportive environment for your employees. This style focuses on building relationships and trust, and providing employees with the resources they need to succeed.

As a leader, you’ll need to be supportive of your employees’ individual goals and objectives. You’ll also need to create an environment where employees feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things.

The supportive leadership style is most effective when used in combination with other styles. For example, you might use the coaching style to help employees develop their skills, and the directing style to provide clear instructions when needed.

3. The Participative Style

The participative style is all about involving your team in the decision-making process. When you use this style, you’re taking a collaborative approach to leadership.

You’re not trying to control or micromanage your team; instead, you’re working with them to make decisions that will benefit the whole group.

There are a few benefits of using the participative style. First, it can help build trust and commitment among team members.

If people feel like they have a say in what’s going on, they’re more likely to be invested in the outcome.

Second, it can lead to better decisions. When you get different perspectives on a problem, you’re more likely to find a creative solution that everyone can get behind.

Of course, there are also some drawbacks to using the participative style. One is that it can take longer to come to a decision; after all, you have to hear everyone out and reach consensus before moving forward.

Another potential downside is that some team members might take advantage of the situation and try to manipulate the decision-making process for their own gain.

If you decide to use the participative style, it’s important to set clear guidelines for how decisions will be made.

That way, everyone knows what to expect and there’s less room for manipulation. You should also be prepared to step in if things start getting too heated or if it looks like consensus isn’t going to be reached.

4. The Autocratic Style

The autocratic style is the polar opposite of the participative style. When you use this approach, you make all the decisions yourself without involving your team. This can be an effective way to get things done quickly, but it does have some drawbacks.

One potential downside of the autocratic style is that it can lead to resentment among team members. If people feel like they don’t have a say in what’s going on, they might start to feel like they’re not valued or respected.

This can lead to low morale and high turnover. Another downside is that you might not always make the best decisions because you don’t have the benefit of different perspectives.

If you decide to use the autocratic style, it’s important to be clear about your decision-making process. Let your team know when and how you’ll be making decisions so there are no surprises.

You should also be prepared to justify your decisions if necessary; if people feel like they understand why you made a particular choice, they’re more likely to accept it.

5. The Delegative Style

The delegative style of leadership is one in which the leader allows subordinates to make decisions. This style is appropriate when subordinates are capable of making decisions and the leader does not need to be involved in the decision-making process.


In this case, the leader provides guidance to subordinates and then allows them to make decisions. This style can be effective when subordinates are experienced and knowledgeable about the task at hand.

6. The Achievement-Oriented Style

When it comes to leadership styles, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The best leaders are those who are able to adapt their style to the situation at hand.

The achievement-oriented style is a good choice when the goal is important and time is of the essence. This style of leadership is all about results. The leader sets high standards and expects the team to meet them.

There is little room for error with this style of leadership. The leader provides clear direction and gives frequent feedback. They are also quick to point out mistakes so that they can be corrected immediately.

This style of leadership can be quite demanding, but it can also be very effective in getting things done quickly and efficiently.

7. The Relationship-Oriented Style

The Relationship-Oriented Style is all about building trust and developing relationships with employees.

In this style, the leader focuses on creating a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns. This approach can help to motivate and engage employees, as they feel like their input is valued.

However, this style of leadership can also take more time, as the leader needs to build trust and rapport with employees. Additionally, this style may not be as effective in highly competitive or fast-paced environments.

8. The Autocratic Style

The autocratic leadership style is when the leader has all the power and decision-making authority. The leader makes decisions without consulting with others and expects employees to follow orders without question.

This style can be effective in emergency situations where quick decisions need to be made, but it can also lead to problems if used too often.

Employees may feel like they are not being heard or valued, and this can lead to resentment and low morale.

9. The Laissez-Faire Style

The Laissez-Faire style is the least effective of the situational leadership styles. In this style, the leader takes a hands-off approach and lets the team members do their own thing. This can work in some situations, but it often leads to chaos and confusion.

There are a few reasons why the Laissez-Faire style is less effective than other situational leadership styles.

First, it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page when everyone is doing their own thing. Second, this style can lead to a lack of accountability since there is no clear leader guiding the team.

Finally, this style can create an environment of competition rather than cooperation, which can make it difficult to get work done.

10. The Pacesetting Style

The Pacesetting style is all about setting a high standard and then leading by example to inspire others to meet that standard.

This style can be effective in situations where there is a need for quick results and the team is already skilled and motivated.

However, this style can also backfire if it’s used too often or without considering the team’s ability to meet the high standards being set.

Pacesetting leaders need to be careful not to come across as demanding or overbearing, as this will only demotivate the team.

11. The Transformational Style

The Transformational style is all about leading by example and motivating employees to achieve common goals.

This style is often used in times of change or when employees need to be inspired to reach their full potential.

To be an effective transformational leader, you must be able to articulate the vision for your team and help them see how their work fits into the big picture. You also need to be able to build trust and create a sense of shared purpose among your team members.


As a leader, it’s important to be able to adapt your leadership style to the situation at hand. The 11 situational leadership styles outlined in this article provide a helpful framework for doing just that.

By understanding these different styles and when to use them, you’ll be better equipped to lead your team through any situation.

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