How to Develop Your Leadership Style

Business professionals have a lot to consider as they begin thinking about leading a team. As pressures mount in the workplace with approaching deadlines and other complications, people in leadership positions use their different management styles to solve problems and complete projects. For aspiring managers, executives, and entrepreneurs, it’s necessary to consider how to generate a leadership style to maximize employee productivity.

A Leadership Style Based on Personality

Before a business person can decide on an appropriate management style, they must look inward to understand their own personality characteristics intimately. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through an extensive personality test that can determine which kind of personality you are in the workplace — and how you can best work with other personalities.

One such test is the DiSC assessment. An article in Forbes said that the personality test “is a straightforward tool that allows us to classify different styles of behavior and apply them in different ways as a means of understanding strengths, challenges, and motivations.” The assessment is split among four major categories that allows for different kinds of blending. The acronym, according to the EverythingDiSC resource manual, stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness, which comprise the different personality types. Forbes explained them as outlined below.


Those who exhibit dominant personality traits are more likely to be “commanding, bold, results-driven, and charismatic.” Further, this personality type is most commonly assumed to be linked to CEOs and others in executive roles because of their swift decision-making and charisma. With an eye for results and the final product, dominant leadership personalities can come off as unsympathetic or detached.


Leaders who fall under the “i” are dynamic, vibrant, and bold in their management style. They prioritize their “social relationships with their team members and a collaborative environment that enables a shared sense of accomplishment when a project is successful.” While their leadership style may be more emotionally in-tune than those who exhibit a dominant leading style, they tend to be a little more off-the-cuff and unorthodox, which could be off-putting for some.


Steady leaders keep projects moving forward by prioritizing the needs of the team before their own, which generates a consistent and respectful culture among employees. In other words, they address the needs of employees to ensure projects and tasks get completed. As leaders in this type tend to strive for consistency, they could at times be more resistant to change than leaders with other personality types.


While those with a dominant personality type may be more results-driven, the conscientious leader will be much more preoccupied with data. In their objective, empirical, and statistical approach to problem-solving, their solutions are typically more thorough, deliberate, and nuanced. As a result, conscientious leaders will not hesitate to take longer on projects to provide a more thoroughly researched and analyzed solution.

It’s important to note that human beings will likely have parts of their personality that come from each of these types. As a result, the DiSC assessment functions more effectively when it’s approached as more of a spectrum, since people will not be fully in one area in their personality — or in the way they lead. After business professionals learn their unique personality type in the workplace, they can begin honing their appropriate management style.

What Are the Seven Leadership Styles?

While there are many different ways to lead effectively, seven different methods stand out from the rest because of their practice and value in the real-world applications. As leaders begin to consider their approach to management, they should consider these different models to make the most informed choice.

Charismatic Leadership

According to a piece in Psychology Today, “Charismatic leaders are essentially very skilled communicators — individuals who are verbally eloquent, but also able to communicate to followers on a deep, emotional level.” These kinds of leaders can connect with employees and followers in both their messaging and delivery, and as a result, they’re able to build a stronger sense of trust based on feeling.

Democratic Leadership

This kind of leadership is also commonly called participative leadership, and it involves leaders working closely in collaboration with employees to solve problems. A separate article in Forbes stated, “Democratic leaders actively participate in discussions, but also make sure to listen to the views of others.” Further, while the democratic leader will have to make final decisions and be ultimately responsible for the outcome, the decision will likely come from the consensus of the group.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Always with a penchant for distance, laissez-faire leaders will tend to leave their employees to their own devices to solve problems and complete projects. With little oversight and no micromanaging, these kinds of leaders allow complete freedom to their employees. Forbes cautioned this leadership style can only work “if the group is highly motivated and competent.” If the group is unfocused or lacking independent direction, projects won’t get done and problems begin to cascade.

Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership, otherwise known as authoritarian leadership, is a style of managing where the leader will make decisions with little to no input from others. As they make decisions independently, they will have to maintain a certain distance from employees as they oversee projects and seek results. According to a recent study in the scholarly journal The Leadership Quarterly, researchers were able to determine that “when team power struggles were low, autocratic leadership was positively related to team psychological safety, and thereby indirectly positively related to team performance.” In other words, autocratic leaders will thrive in environments where employees are content in their roles but struggle when employees compete against each other for more powerful positions.

Servant Leadership

Servant leaders are closely tied with the “S” area of the DiSC assessment, as they, too, put the group’s needs before their own. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, these kinds of leaders have a unique potential for success because they “possess a serve-first mindset, and they are focused on empowering and uplifting those who work for them.” In other words, servant leaders operate on the opposite side of the management spectrum from autocratic leaders, since they are primarily interested in letting employees steer the ship while they provide necessary support and resources.

Transactional Leadership

Working with a system of rewards and consequences, transactional leaders incentivize employees to provide their highest quality work through close supervision and performance reviews. As a result, the thinking is that employees will be more motivated to increase their productivity under this kind of leadership for a potential reward or from fear of punishment. This leadership style, like the transformational management method, has grown in popularity in the 21st-century workplace because of its efficacy in corporate environments. It’s important to note, though, that this model of leadership is most effective for stable, consistent work cultures, as the results are much more effectively measured over time.

Transformational Leadership

On the opposite side of transactional leadership is transformational leadership, which is best suited for companies going through some sort of organizational or structural change. Leaders in this model will thrive in addressing the needs of employees as they adapt to new expectations and duties. While this leadership method also utilizes performance reviews, the transformational leader relies much less on a system of rewards and reprimands. Instead, this kind of leader depends much more on acting as a source of inspiration as employees get more comfortable with their new environment.

Becoming an Effective Leader

After a business professional has homed in on the most appropriate management style based on their personality, their strengths and weaknesses, and their own objectives, there are still some important things to consider before a leader can reach success.

One central issue future leaders need to consider is responding to failure. Feris Rifai, CEO of Bay Dynamics, wrote in Fortune about confronting failure and moving past it. Entrepreneurs must realize how frequent and unforgiving different kinds of failure can arise, and that from failure, valuable lessons can be learned.

Rifai said that regardless of management style and “no matter the magnitude, if you treat a setback as an opportunity to create something even better, then you will lead your small army of people in a new, positive direction.” This principle is vital for developing strong leadership traits in diverse fields.

The type of industry that an entrepreneur will engage in is necessary in the leadership style decision-making process. A successful leadership approach in one industry may prove totally ineffective in another, so future leaders should consider the nuances and expectations of their trade. Recent scholarly research has observed the trend in one specific leadership style in the financial industry: transactional leadership.

While many of the different types of management have their pros and cons, researchers in the article “Influence of Leadership Styles in Creating Quality Work Culture” have seen a strong correlation between a positive, productive workplace environment and a leader applying a transactional management style. This connection is important, since “the strong significant relationship between leadership style and quality work culture clearly shows that transactional leadership style possessed by majority of leaders influence the level of quality work culture.” In other words, for entrepreneurs in the financial industry looking for results from employees, the transactional leadership approach may be the most effective choice.

Additionally, a trusted strategy to find success as a business leader is to prove your credibility among employees. One of the best credentials in this capacity is an online MBA, which demonstrates to future employees your business acumen and understanding of industry trends. With an estimated one-year completion timeline, Aurora University offers the tools for you to boost earnings, locate compelling career opportunities, and enter the entrepreneurial world confidently. Developing your own leadership style can be complicated and challenging, but Aurora University’s online MBA will make the process much easier as you master your problem-solving and decision-making abilities.