How your Leadership Style Impacts the Success of your Business

Management consultant, blog writer, dreamer

Your leadership style has a huge impact on the way that your business performs. In fact, the way you lead may result in happy, engaging employees. Or your leadership style can cause your employees to be unhappy and may even harm them.

In today’s rapid changing and digitize business world, leaders may find it hard keep up with roles that have to play. Indeed, “If you get results, people will support you, often without caring too much about how you got them; without results, all the style or charisma in the world won’t retain the support of your followers for long”, suggests Jeffrey Gandz in the Ivey Business Journal.

Leadership styles are manifested through various dominant behaviors. The once dominant two-tier approach explained leadership styles as opposing behaviors within different dimensions, e.g. autocratic—democratic leadership 1. Therefore are an autocratic leadership style and a democratic leadership style at the opposite ends of the leadership continuum.

The Autocratic leadership style

The autocratic leadership style is characterized by dominant leaders and workers recognize them as the “do as I say” kind of leaders 2. Hence, the basic premise throughout history has shown autocratic leadership relies on the non-existence of input from the subordinates in terms of making decisions.

“The leader is the one in charge of the final call, although he or she might have heard outside opinions from expert and even considered what the subordinates might want. But the final power is in the hands of the leader”, writes Anastasia in about autocratic leadership.

There are opposing views of what the outcomes of an autocratic leadership can be:

  1. Esowe and Kabir, 2017 2 have no kind words for autocratic leaders: “there is no mutual vision and little encouragement beyond coercion. The autocratic leader entirely eliminates employee commitment, creativity and innovation. In the true sense of the case, the subordinates of this kind of leader are biding their time, waiting for the inevitable failure of the leader and his subsequent removal.”
  2. On the other hand, writes Leigh Buchanan Editor-at-large, Inc. Magazine, that humility isn’t a de facto best practice. She quoted leadership guru Rajeev Peshawaria stating that “”history shows that people love working for autocratic top-down leaders.” According to Leigh he cited examples such as Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and Nelson Mandela.

Now let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing an autocratic leadership style (

Quick decision-makingJoyless productivity
Streamlined work processesResentment within the group
Absolute controlCreating a dependency culture
Focused targetsRemoves accountability and motivation
Close supervisionLess creative and innovative environment
Maintains order and disciplineRelies heavily on the competence of the leader
Diversity in the workplace reduces

Let’s consider the democratic leadership style.

The Democratic leadership style

The democratic leadership style, which is at the other end of the leadership continuum, is characterized by highly participative decision-making and power-equalization. This leadership style is also known as the participative leadership style. As a result, with the democratic leadership style members of the group take a more participative role in the decision-making process.

Arko van Brakel writing for the SEMCO Style Institute supports a democratic leadership style in business. He said “The world is constantly evolving and so are the kind of businesses that thrive in today’s highly tech-infused world. If your business needs to survive well into the future, old fashioned management ideas won’t work anymore.”

Neil Kokemuller writing in Small Business.Cron has this to say about the democratic leadership style: “Anytime you have multiple discussion a problem or opportunity, you also run the risk that conflict arises. This point is especially true if you have very opinionated workers. Constant use of participative management can potentially lead to personal rifts among team members. If employees feel that others are intentionally disregarding or combating their opinions, they may take it a personally and avoid interacting with them.” lists the following advantages and disadvantages of a democratic leadership style:

It fits almost every business. It tends to become apologetic.
It often has solutions for complex problems. It is time-consuming.
 It promotes a creative environment. It takes long to process decisions.
 It builds strong teams.It can seem to be uncertain.

The leadership styles of Women in business

Women continue to experience difficulty regarding obtaining and establishing successful leadership careers because of the pervasive dominance of male leadership 3. And yet, female leaders have many of the same qualities as their male colleagues, especially an ability to set high goals and inspire others to fulfill them, according to Work In Progress writing in Forbes.

Indeed, having women as leaders in your business can have positives outcomes. Dr. Audrey Nelson writing in Psychology Today concurs: “The feminine leadership style is interpersonal, nurturing, flexible, and interconnected, meaning that it networks in all directions with others to achieve the company’s goals.”

Mareisha Winters writing in Let’s Talk About Work has contrasted the leadership styles of men and women:

Transactional - Job performance as a series of transactions to be rewarded or disciplinedTransformational - Tying employee self interest to the goals of the organization
Prefer hierarchical structurePrefer flat structure
Focus on performanceFocus on relationships
Give orders/have them followedPersuade/encourage/motivate
Direct communication styleIndirect communication style

But can we rely only on gender to explain the differences in leadership style between individuals? Here’s the perspective of Rachel Russo (

“In some instances, there may be no perceived differences at all in leadership styles between men and women. In other cases, people may perceive men and women to act differently based on their own socially constructed conceptions of gender. Differences may have more to do with personality aptitudes and gender stereotypes than with actual differences in leadership due to gender.”

It’s important to get a leader to instigate the direction in which you want to steer your business, whether male or female, or other stereotypes…

Do women make better leaders than men?


There’s a lot that can go wrong with your business if the leadership style of your managers does not fit your business’s strategy. Indeed, these individuals can destroy your business in a very short time. So take care when appointing leaders to your business:

  1. Appointing the wrong person; or
  2. Not appointing the right person…

Read also: Success in the Digital Age Requires Extraordinary Retail Leaders

A well researched and written Business Plan helps to get your business started the right way.

Image: Pexels

Video: Seeker


1 Babiak, J., Bajcar, B. and Nosal, C.S. 2017. Heterogeneity of leadership styles as behavioral units: the role of personality in searching for leadership profiles, In Advances in Human Factors, Business Management, Training and Education, 107-120), Springer, Cham.

2 Esowe, S.L. and Kabir, A.A. 2017. Leadership Styles of Chief Executive Officers and Growth of Business Organizations, International Journal of Social Sciences and Management Research, 3(1):1-15.

3 Jones, E.L. and Jones, R.C. 2017. Leadership Style and Career Success of Women Leaders in Nonprofit Organizations, Advancing Women in Leadership, 37:37-48.

Published by

Douw G Steyn

Management consultant, blog writer, dreamer

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