What Makes a Good Leader? Leadership Styles

What Makes a Good Leader?

leadership stylesDo you consider yourself to be a good leader? Do you know the benefits of your natural style? What does your leadership style cost you as a leader? Although we all have a natural, dominant leadership style, over time and with experience and development, we can learn to move across a spectrum of styles. Being able to adapt your style will enable you to bring out the best in yourself, your teams and your business overall.

Leadership can be complex, demanding and often thankless, depending on the environment and organisational culture. You may have to wear many hats to keep your business operations flowing smoothly on a day-to-day basis. You may also find yourself adopting different styles unconsciously to suit certain situations. The ability to recognise when and how to adopt a specific leadership style will help to make you a more effective leader.

What are the different leadership styles?

There are many different views on leadership styles, and we often use those based on Daniel Goleman’s Leadership Framework, Harvard Business Review (2000). Put simply, styles are split into task or people focused, and different styles may be used together to create a complimentary leadership approach.

A task-focused style works best when used sparingly and you’re aware as a leader when to stop using this approach. People-focused styles tend to bring a sense of balance to task-focused leadership styles, which is especially useful at board or senior management level. Creating a board or team with a combination of different leadership styles will help you to maintain an equilibrium between task and people-focused styles within the business.

Do you recognise yourself as a people or task-focused leader?

First, let’s look at task-focused leadership styles:


leadership stylesWhen used in highly regulated or safety-critical organisations and teams, this style can work well as it draws on clear, logical thinking. Use this style when individuals or teams require clear direction in crisis situations.

Donald Trump, US President is a good example of a Commanding style.


When there is alignment between the team and leader’s style, a Pacesetting style is perfect. A ‘Pacesetter’ will be fully aware of their specific task outcomes and combined purpose, which can be useful when a situation requires a highly motivated, competent person.

A great example of a leader with this style is Steve Jobs, Apple.

Below is a list of people-focused leadership styles:


This style shines through when a new direction is aligned with a leader’s values, and the leader is able to demonstrate passion about an organisational change. This approach often works best when the team surrounding a leader hold complimentary styles to implement the vision.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook is a prime example of this leadership style.


leadership stylesWhen used effectively with the right balance of empathy and vulnerability, an Affiliate style can be used to recover or develop trust and team loyalty. This leadership style works best when used in conjunction with other people-focused styles to create an effective leadership approach.

A typical leader with an Affiliate style would be Bill Gates, the Founder of Microsoft.


What Makes a Good Leader? Leadership StylesDuring times of change, a Democratic style can provide an effective approach when it comes to achieving buy in, consensus and a positive outcome. This style works best when the leader has the time and patience to objectively find some common ground between the people in the business.

Howard Schultz, previous CEO and Executive Chairman of Starbucks, is a good example of someone who has a Democratic leadership style.


This leadership style is where creativity, innovation, and a level of risk-taking are central to a team’s purpose, and where the leader can provide the right balance of support and direction. This style works best when team members are self-motivated towards their own development and are willing to achieve their goals using their own initiative.

Larry Fink, Chairman & CEO of the global investment company, Black Rock, uses a coaching style.

How can I develop a balanced leadership style?

Start getting to know yourself, your style, and how you’d like to develop as a leader. You can do this in many ways: personal reflection, the results you’ve achieved over time, feedback from others, and working with a leadership coach. Understanding your leadership style will help you to achieve better leadership roles, which will not only benefit your organisation, but your own personal development too.
Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How often do you take time away from your business to reflect on your leadership style?
  • How well does your current leadership approach work for you and your business?
  • How can you develop different leadership styles to reflect the needs of your business?

Our Leadership Award

Our Founder of I’m Your Coach, Jeanette Miller, received an award as a direct result of utilising different leadership styles:

“During my tenure at BCS The Chartered Institute for IT, I transformed my business function into one which was highly regarded within the organisation for its excellent performance, expertise and service delivery. I achieved this by drawing on a balanced approach to leadership styles. I was then recognised by the Executive Board as the role model they wished others to aspire to within the organisation. As a result, I achieved the BCS Staff Award for Leadership.”

Would you like to explore your leadership style? Would you like to learn how to adapt your style to get better results for you, your team and your business? By improving your own style, your business may benefit from greater productivity and better results. Get in touch to explore a different approach to leadership in the safety and confidence of a coaching relationship.