Leadership styles and their characteristics

An autocratic leader has absolute power over the followers and allows minimal input from the team.

A bureaucratic leader follows rules rigorously and makes sure the follows adhere to those rules as well, failure to which they are punished.

A charismatic leader is a leader who inspired followers to be enthusiastic and is considered a source of inspiration to succeed by the followers.

The democratic or participative leader allows input from the followers to make them feel valued and develop necessary skills but retains the final decisions in those inputs.

Laissez-faire leader cares less about the team and may leave them to work on their own and only effective when handling highly experienced employees.

A servant leader does not have to be in a formal leadership position, because it occurs anytime an individual at any level leads the others to accomplish a certain task.

A transactional leader requires complete obedience from the team, and those who do so are rewarded by the organization.

A transformational leader inspires the team by sharing with them the organization’s vision and involving them in various activities within the workplace to create a strong attachment to long-term success.


  • A barbarian is a leader who excels when the organization is in difficult times or when it is attempting to adopt diversification.
  • A barbarian leader sees himself as in a life-or-death situation and expects his followers to either work out a solution or move out of the way.
  • They expect followers to engage in detailed planning exercises and usually do not approach their followers whenever they need to promote.
  • They expect those who consider themselves fit for promotion, have to approach a barbarian leader and discuss their objectives and intentions.


  • Prophets are at their best when the organization is getting started are when entering a period of major restructuring and renewal.
  • They hold a strong belief in new products and services and rarely believe people outside their small group of followers.
  • A prophet leader makes decisions on their own and though they may listen to others, they barely consider participative decision making as of any significance.
  • If you work for a prophet, do not expect him or her to provide clear instructions, they expect you to be tolerant of their illogical ideas and decisions, and neither are they polite when you intend to seek their advice.


  • These are leaders who believe in their organization’s products and services and are much interested in the means of production although much of their energy is focused on making those means.


  • These are leaders more efficient than barbarians, builders, and prophets.
  • Explorers are slightly similar to builders but a slight difference is a way explorers put more emphasis on numbers.
  • They are most in touch with the customers and foster the development of production processes and relationships.

Other leadership styles

  • Synergist – A leader who helps an organization achieve growth while balancing expansion.
  • Administrator – A leader who helps an organization shift from expansion to safe and routine operation.
  • Bureaucrat – A leader who imposes tight controls and has no interest in creativity (contrary to a bureaucrat and a prophet) and no interest in growth (contrary to barbarian).
  • Aristocrat – A leader is autocratic, produces organizational disintegration, communicate poorly, and avoid making decisions.

Summary of concepts

  • Leadership Definition:
    • The use of power to influence, motivate, and enable others to organizational goal achievement.
  • Great Person Theory of Leadership:
    • Debunked: Leaders are not born; various personalities can be effective leaders.
    • Personality Traits: Indicators of leader emergence rather than a perfect combination for effective leadership.
  • Competency Leadership Perspective:
    • Characteristics:
      • Personality: Conscientiousness as a trait.
      • Self-Concept: High self-esteem and internal locus of control.
      • Drive: High need for achievement and motivation.
      • Integrity: Incorporating values and goals.
      • Leadership Motivation: Leading others toward organizational accomplishment.
      • Knowledge of the Business: Understanding the environment.
      • Cognitive & Practical Intelligence: Critical thinking and problem-solving.
      • Emotional Intelligence: Recognizing and controlling emotions.
  • Authentic Leadership:
    • Requirement: Leaders need to be aware, comfortable, and consistent with their values, personality, and self-concept.
    • Strategic Application: Developing a leadership style aligned with values, taking effective positions, and consistently applying values.
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership:
    • Description: Hands-off leadership style characterized by the avoidance of leadership.
    • Effectiveness: Generally considered ineffective; lack of proactive leadership.
  • Transactional Leadership:
    • Approach: Carrot-and-stick approach based on rewarding or disciplining followers according to performance.
    • Types:
      • Passive Management by Exception: Reactive correction of mistakes.
      • Active Management by Exception: Proactive monitoring and correction.
      • Contingent Reward: Using rewards to drive desired behavior.
  • Transformational Leadership:
    • Definition: Inspiring followers to commit to a shared vision, serving as role models, and helping followers develop their potential.
    • Process:
      • Develop & Communicate a Strategic Vision.
      • Model the Vision.
      • Encourage Experimentation.
      • Build Commitment toward the Vision.
    • 4 I’s: Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, Individualized Consideration.
  • Shared Leadership:
    • Concept: Leadership is shared by every team member rather than a formal position assigned to one person.
    • Existence Criteria: Engaging in citizenship behaviors, offering innovative solutions, and learning from each other based on expertise.

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Editorial Team. (2023, September 4). Leadership styles and their characteristics. Help Write An Essay. Retrieved from https://www.helpwriteanessay.com/blog/strategic-leadership-styles-instrument-barbarian-prophet-explorer-and-builders/

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