A Traditional Manager’s Guide for Modern Leadership Styles

Modern leadership is an intimidating terrain to explore without the right tools. Good thing, learning about modern leadership styles will help you navigate that terrain.

Gone are the days of traditional leadership in which bosses give instructions and expect their subordinates to follow blindly. Authoritarian administration like that is looked down on nowadays. Modern leaders don’t only tell people what to do, but they now also listen, collaborate, and encourage growth among their team members.

From visionary to authentic authority, there’s a wide range of modern leadership styles to choose from. How do you know what style best suits you as a leader? What kind of management would best compliment your industry? Is there just one type you can use? If so, which one?

You can actually use a combination of types because your leadership depends on what your people need. As a modern leader you should be dynamic and adaptable. Similar to how your team needs to grow, your management skills need to grow, too.

Choose the kind that best suits your company’s growth, no matter what your industry is. Explore the new terrain of modern leadership by checking out our list below to help your team become the best they can be.

Visionary leadership

In a visionary leadership, leaders inspire and empower people to achieve difficult but rewarding goals. These experts motivate other people in their field by articulating their vision so clearly that employees can figure out how to achieve the said goals on their own. This type of leader empowers people to strive towards a unified goal, leading the charge towards success for all.

It can be difficult to be successful with this management style. To achieve this esteem as a leader, you must take the time to truly listen to your team members. Smart visionaries know how to listen. They give genuine attention to people and can gain their trust. They know how to use that trust wisely to inspire and empower towards a goal.

The visionary approach is helpful when  you need to make a big organisational change and get everyone on the same page. It’s great for professional teams who already know what to do with little to no supervision. It may not suit leaders and teams with little experience in their field.

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Laissez-faire is a French term that translates to “let them do.” In this style, the leader gives all authority to their employees. In a smoothly-run laissez-faire, the boss only appears at the beginning of the process (to provide guidelines and information) and at the end (to critique and provide advice).

This type of leader encourages self-direction to promote creativity and innovation among their employees.

This type of authority is common among start-ups in which the founder puts full faith in his employees while he oversees the rest of the company. It is also common, and even beneficial, in teams composed of skilled professionals needing freedom and creativity.

On the other hand, this would not be a good style for companies that can’t self-manage. If a team isn’t equipped to solve problems on their own, a laissez-faire leadership would result in poor output and member development.

Transactional leadership

This leadership style focuses on rewarding workers with incentives to improve their performance. As a transactional boss, you give your team certain benefits for accomplishing a certain amount of work. If they do more than what’s expected of them, you reward them with bonuses. This establishes clear responsibilities for employees; so they know exactly what their effort is worth.

As clear-cut as this management style is, it’s also mostly effective for short-term work.  You’re motivating your workers to do their jobs in exchange for payment. Studies show that for long-term work, these extrinsic rewards aren’t as effective as intrinsic rewards. This type isn’t helpful in developing better and more creative workers in the long run.


In this type of management, bosses set a challenging work pace for their employees for a difficult but rewarding goal. You’re in front of the pack; as the leader, you create a need for better performance amongst your team to motivate them to work hard. You set a tough pace for your team; so they’re encouraged to aim towards a greater goal.

People in certain fields, like sales, flourish when they’re recognised for their specific achievements. A good manager can balance the drive for high performance while creating healthy competition.

Though a research by the Harvard Business Review shows that the pacesetting leaders should avoid implementing stretch goals, they also found that complacent teams benefit from their use. If you have a good but complacent team, you can try pacesetting as a style to motivate them out of their complacency.

You shouldn’t maintain this for too long, though. Maintaining stretch goals for a long period may cause burnout and will set your employees up for failure, if they aren’t able to match your pace. This may lead to a loss of motivation and a decrease in morale in your company in the long run.

Transformational leadership

As the name implies, this kind of leadership involves constant transformation based on the people’s goals. Your company has its basic tasks, but as its leader, you’re constantly challenging them to get out of their comfort zones and achieve more challenging goals.

This management style of leadership is best practised by companies focused on growth. As the leader, you’re constantly transforming your employees’ goal so they’re motivated to improve. Communication is key, though, so you don’t lose sight of your members’ individual growth and lower their morale, overall.

Democratic leadership

This type of administration encourages you, the leader, to make decisions based on the insights of each person. As the leader, you collaborate with your employees and oversee a consensus decision on a project or goal.

The obvious pro to this is that you’re getting the most information and feedback possible from the most dependable sources: your employees. You’re also letting your team feel valued in their opinions. In valuing their opinions you’re training them to think for themselves and be more responsible with their input.

This, however, only works if you have the time to hear everyone’s opinions. If your company environment doesn’t allow for long discussions on projects, then this may not be the best for you. The democratic approach best works in companies where people have the time to collaborate and brainstorm on their choices.

Modern leadership styles guide

Modern leadership styles guide



Think of this in a way a coach manages his sports team. The coach nurtures the strengths of each individual member while devising strategies to help the team work better together. To be effective in coaching, leaders  need to communicate with their members to improve on their skills and build better rapport.

This type of management works best in companies where the employees have already demonstrated competency in their positions. Much like in sports, a coach would be working on an already adept team. This kind of direction wouldn’t be conducive to new hires.

This management style requires time and strong interpersonal skills. You need to take your time to build mentoring relationships with each individual so that they open up to you about their strengths and weaknesses. This will result in a group that communicates well and embraces one another’s unique skills to get the job done.

Affiliative leadership

The affiliative leader is all about peace and harmony. In this kind of management, you create trust by solving personality conflicts among members. You affiliate yourself with your team by being patient and kind, to form a harmonious environment for everyone.

This management style is usually applied to newly formed teams. It allows everyone the time to figure out their personality issues in the early stages of company development. This is also applicable to teams that need healing from stressful, high-risk environments. It helps employees solve their issues; so they can get back on track as a team.

Don’t apply this for too long, though. Too much peace and harmony can lead to complacency, if you’re not careful. Once you’ve created a healthy work environment, make sure to motivate your team to strive towards greater goals, again.

Authentic leadership

This is the simplest but most genuine of all the styles. Authentic leadership focuses on development-oriented and altruistic solutions to solve modern issues. Bosses build credibility by building authentic bonds with their employees.

Authentic leaders are motivated by the growth and prosperity of their subordinates and their company, and they develop a work environment that focuses on mutual trust and transparency.

This is a simple concept in theory but a difficult type to execute. It requires the genuine integrity of the leader for it to be successful. It’s not just a type of management, but it’s also a kind of personality in a boss that needs to be nurtured in every member of the company for it to succeed.

In summary

After reading the nine management styles of leadership, you may resonate with one or many of them. Choose what’s best for your company, whether it’s one or a combination of management types. There are countless ways to develop your leadership skills, but at the end of the day, it’s all about listening, collaboration, and growth, both for you and your employees.

Don’t just stick to the style you’re comfortable using. Step out of your comfort zone and try new techniques. Understand that you need to take into account your company’s culture, your people, your situation, and your capabilities as a leader.

As the times change, so should your management style. Don’t be afraid to step into the scary and new terrain of modern leadership styles. You have the right tools, now go and lead!


About the Author

Jona Jone is the writer and editor. She has been writing articles about real estate investment, business, parenting, and living.

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