Leaders and Leadership Styles

In my experience, leaders are invariably different, there is not one standard model.

In fact different leaders and leadership styles are required at different business stages.

Basically there is a combination of types of leaders and leadership styles: –

  • The Entrepreneurial leader
  • The Professional leader
  • The Complacent leader
  • The Turnaround leader

And these are combined with:

  • The Collusive / collaborative style
  • The Dictatorial style
  • The Arrogant style.

It is uncommon for leaders to be only one particular type of leader, there tends to be a blend of styles but with one predominant style. However the following is a brief discussion of the primary characteristics of each style.


Entrepreneurial Leader

This genre is the primary source of new ideas and is prepared to risk almost everything. They lead from the front and are followed through the sheer excitement and passion they engender. They are at odds with routine and administration constantly introducing new ideas and constant change. In most cases they are conflicted when the business matures and should hand over to professional managers as the administrative and reporting necessities stifle their creativity. This however is usually a challenge as they have great difficulty in letting Go.

Professional Leader

Predominantly this style of leader has learned their trade in the corporate environment and is more formal and structured in their performance. While they usually have visions of starting their own business they tend to be more risk averse, particularly with their own capital. However to move a company towards prime or optimum performance, professional management is required.

Complacent Leader

In general this leader has become too comfortable, with complacency setting in and the business on the decline. Their own needs, remuneration package etc, are their primary concern and increasingly become risk averse. Although the business requires serious change, it is “business as usual”, don’t rock the boat. Unless they catch a wake up call, the business will progressively decay. In most case the solution is to change leaders.

Turnaround Leader

This is the leader required in a crises situation. They need to be tough, decisive, commanding and more dictatorial than collusive. However it is unlikely they will be successful once the turnaround had been accomplished. That requires a more collaborative but nonetheless decisive style.

It is unlikely that any one leader can adapt to all situations – it requires matching the business situation with the appropriate leadership type.

Let’s also look at styles which tend to be a matrix with the type of leader



Collusive Style

This leader naturally engages with and involves people at every opportunity. Because of the collaboration, decision making  maybe more time consuming but implementation is far more effective as all the necessary parties have been involved and there is “BUY-IN” to the decision.

Dictatorial Style

The decisions must all come from the leader. Although they may listen to others, the decision is often pre-determined and fixed. They tend to develop “yes” managers who don’t rock the boat. The good, progressive, challenging managers move to where they can make a contribution.

Arrogant Style

Basically they only listen to themselves. They don’t listen or learn from others but do it their way. It is rare they can build a team but the style is often successful in short term or crisis situations. However it is unlikely they will build or sustain a business, particularly in today’s world.

While not an exhaustive leadership study, it outlines the key styles and types.

Ask yourself:

What type of leader are you ?

How do your people see you ?

Do I need to modify my behaviour?

How can you become a better more effective leader?

**(First published in Real Business)

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