Factors Influencing Leadership Styles

There are six major leadership styles used by business owners. Leadership styles affect the corporate culture and how well a leader can effectively get an employee to deliver results. While most business leaders employ one leadership style as the dominant style, there are factors and situations where changing styles can improve results. Learn what employees respond to and understand your primary style while learning to adapt as needed.


Several factors influence the six leadership styles of managers including the personality traits of the leader, how the leader was mentored, the employees' personalities, and the type of task at hand.

Six Dominant Leadership Styles

Before a leader can understand the various influences on leadership style, it is important to understand the styles that exist. A coercive style is an all-or-nothing approach in which it's either "my way or the highway." An authoritative style makes it clear who the boss is but has room for flexibility. The affiliative style wants the work environment to feel like a community where everyone, including the leader, feels included, according to Southeastern University.

Democratic styles of leadership have the leader constantly asking what subordinates think about goals, processes and potential issues. The coaching style takes on a mentoring approach, constantly helping subordinates try new things. The pacesetter leads by example and is often the first in the office and last out with the highest levels of production.

The Influence of the Leader's Personality

Internal factors that influence management styles include all aspects of personality. A competitive person is inclined to become a pacesetter, trying to show the team that high-levels of output are possible. A leader who feels that he does his part by paying salaries and expects employees to produce or get out tends to lean more toward a coercive leadership style.

Assessing dominant leadership styles is important to determine when to alter the style. To describe the factors that will influence the choice of leadership styles of behaviors in workplace situations, it is important to examine yourself in your interactions with your organization.

The Influence of the Leader's Mentoring

How the leader was mentored could affect his leadership style. A manager who comes up through the ranks of the company in a coaching environment with a mentor who took him to meetings or reviewed calls and appointments for ways to improve may approach his team in the same manner. If that same manager was cultivated in a more democratic environment where management sought the opinions of the team, the manager might see this as the key to success, since it was a key to his rise to leadership.

Employees' Personalities and Responses to Leadership Styles

Not everyone responds to leadership styles in the same way. Someone who is timid might be overwhelmed by a coercive or even a pacesetting leader. This person might constantly wonder if his job is in jeopardy or feel he will never be able to measure up to the greatness shown by the pacesetter.

Business leaders have started employing personality tests for both managers and employees to understand better how they mix. This way managers can understand things like how a competitive employee should be pushed in peer comparisons to find his highest levels of success.

Types of Task Requiring Different Leadership Styles

Some tasks require a certain type of leadership style, says Forbes. It doesn't behoove a manager to take on a democratic leadership style if he is conducting a meeting for insubordination with an employee. He may need to use a coercive style depending on the severity of the infraction.

While the democratic or affiliative approaches may work for brainstorming and creative tasks, these could hinder the leader from establishing a clear vision and direction for the company. This situation would benefit from an authoritative approach.

Managers should look at the normal tasks of daily operation and determine what styles work best for what situations and develop methods and processes that can be implemented to alter dominant leadership qualities.