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Most Common Leadership Styles in Business for 2024

By: Jack Nicholaisen author image
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There are many leadership styles that can work for small businesses.

article summaryKey Takeaways

  • Shared Leadership in LLCs: Leaders sharing power and valuing learning benefit LLCs by creating flat structures with open communication, fostering a sense of ownership and motivation among employees.
  • Democratic Leadership: This style involves more managerial participation in decision-making, leading to increased employee satisfaction, retention, and long-term business success through regular engagement and feedback.
  • Transformational Leadership: By inspiring and challenging their teams, transformational leaders foster continuous improvement and innovation, resulting in increased employee performance and higher revenue growth rates for small businesses.
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership Pitfalls: While autonomy is important, too much freedom without clear goals or feedback can decrease employee productivity and focus, highlighting the need for balanced leadership approaches in small businesses.
  • Servant Leadership Benefits: Focusing on the growth and well-being of employees, servant leadership increases commitment and engagement, cultivating an environment where talent feels empowered and invested in the company's long-term success.

Leaders who share power and value learning may have special benefits for LLCs.

Flatter structures with open communication up and down the ranks help managers stay connected to the work and what employees think.

Leaders who see themselves as coaches on the team, instead of bosses giving orders, help motivate people and give them a sense of ownership.

Flexibility to experiment and learn from mistakes is good for nimble companies.

Regular feedback keeps managers responsible while also giving them chances to help shape strategy.

With the right supportive, growth-focused approaches, LLCs can empower managers to lead from the front as involved partners driving new ideas, productivity and growth no matter the economic conditions.

Autocratic Leadership

how many leadership styles are there

While some companies still have bosses that make all the decisions, most small businesses now know it’s better to share power with managers.

  • Forbes reports that around 21% of employees view autocratic leaderships in their workplace as a viable option.

When leaders get ideas from different people with different skills, it helps them make better choices.

It also helps everyone feel more involved if they often talk about goals and values.

Over time, if bosses just tell everyone what to do, they may lose top talent who want more say and teamwork in their jobs.

  • A survey by Gallup found that 45% of employees working under autocratic leaders experience burnout.

To keep employees excited and creative, small business owners wearing many hats must focus on building trust with managers so they both want the business to succeed.

Democratic Leadership

what leadership styles are there

Many companies these days use a democratic style of leadership.

This means involving managers more in big decisions.

When leaders ask for ideas from managers and let them help make plans, it encourages people and makes them want to work harder.

Regular team meetings give everyone a chance to talk about goals and problems.

Surveys and exit interviews help check that managers feel valued, developed, and invested in the company’s future success.

  • A survey by Deloitte found that companies with democratic leaders have a 21% higher employee retention rate.

Outcomes like happier employees, more innovation, and better business performance show how democratic styles that bring together different views across a company can provide long-term benefits.

This approach works especially well for small businesses focused on always learning and adapting.

What are the benefits of democratic leadership in small businesses?

Democratic leadership can increase employee satisfaction, improve retention rates, and lead to long-term business success.

With this type of leadership style, managers involve their team members in decision-making processes, encouraging collaboration and innovation.

Implementing a democratic leadership style in small businesses can create a positive work environment that fosters employee engagement and drives growth.

Transformational Leadership

different leadership styles in business

Transformational leadership has a big impact on companies.

  • A survey by Gallup found that companies with transformational leaders have a 26% higher revenue growth rate.

When leaders inspire and challenge managers with meaningful work, they create a culture where people keep learning, trying new things, and improving.

Leaders treat teams as partners by being open about goals and progress.

They also listen to different ideas to make big decisions.

Regular one-on-one meetings give chances for career advice, credit for contributions, and talks about the future within the company.

  • The Harvard Business Review states that transformational leaders make up approximately 30% of all managers in LLCs.

Results show how this leadership style can get the best out of managers through empowerment and shared goals.

  • Forbes reports that 73% of small businesses with transformational leaders achieve long-term success.

This maximizes success, competitive edge, and long-term sustainability - all important for small businesses.

How does transformational leadership contribute to small business success?

Transformational leadership leads to increased employee performance, higher revenue growth rates, and overall long-term success for small businesses.

Learn more…

Transformational leaders inspire and challenge their teams through meaningful work experiences, fostering an environment of continuous learning and improvement.

Research shows that transformational leadership can lead to a 22% increase in employee performance (source: Leadership & Organization Development Journal).

Additionally, companies with transformational leaders have a 26% higher revenue growth rate (source: Gallup).

By adopting a transformational leadership style, small business owners can empower their teams to reach their full potential and drive lasting success.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

leadership styles business

While empowering managers is important for many companies, leaders need to provide direction too.

If managers are completely on their own without clear goals or feedback, it doesn’t help them improve.

Teams also won’t be focused on the same priorities or values.

Outcomes show that balanced approaches work best.

  • A survey by Gallup found that employees working under laissez-faire leaders are twice as likely to experience burnout compared to those working under other leadership styles.

In these, leaders trust managers but also provide guidance, support and motivation through regular communication.

For small businesses especially, maximizing teamwork, learning and results at every level requires leadership.

Leaders need to empower talent through mutual trust, openness and commitment to shared success.

Servant Leadership

business leadership styles

Servant leadership is an effective way for companies to encourage involvement and empowerment from within.

By making the needs, growth and well-being of their managers the top priority, servant leaders motivate high performance through building trust and psychological safety.

  • A survey by Gallup found that companies with servant leaders have a 27% higher employee engagement rate.

They actively ask for feedback and ideas from all levels while also recognizing contributions, sharing credit and advocating for others to grow.

  • Entrepreneur reports that 71% of small businesses with servant leaders achieve long-term success.

Regular one-on-one check-ins allow servant leaders to understand how they can support individuals through challenges as well as dreams beyond their current roles.

Outcomes show how this influential yet humble approach can maximize potential throughout organizations by cultivating environments where talent feels empowered and invested in the shared vision of long-term success.

What are the advantages of servant leadership in small businesses?

Servant leadership increases employee commitment, engagement rates, and long-term success for small businesses.

Learn more…

Servant leaders prioritize the needs, growth, and well-being of their team members, building trust and psychological safety within the organization.

Studies show that servant leadership can increase employee commitment by up to 33% (source: Journal of Business Ethics), while companies with servant leaders have a 27% higher employee engagement rate (source: Gallup).

Additionally, 71% of small businesses with servant leaders achieve long-term success (source: Entrepreneur).

By embracing a servant leadership approach, small business owners can foster an environment where employees feel empowered and invested in the company's vision for long-term success.

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions About Leadership Styles in Business

Business FAQs

What is the most effective leadership style for small businesses?

Transformational and democratic leadership styles are often the most effective.

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Transformational leadership inspires teams to continuously improve and innovate, creating a culture that leads to higher revenue growth and increased employee performance.

According to Forbes, 73% of small businesses with transformational leaders achieve long-term success.

Democratic leadership involves managers in decision-making, fostering a positive environment that increases retention rates.

A study by Deloitte found that companies with democratic leaders see a 21% higher retention rate.

Why is autocratic leadership less favored in modern workplaces?

It can lead to burnout, low morale, and reduced employee retention.

Learn More...

Autocratic leadership centralizes decision-making, leading to burnout and low satisfaction.

Gallup's survey found that 45% of employees under autocratic leaders experience burnout, while the Harvard Business Review notes that such leaders comprise only 15% of managers in LLCs.

This style often overlooks employee input, hindering innovation and engagement, which could result in a high turnover of talented individuals seeking more collaborative work environments.

How does laissez-faire leadership negatively affect small businesses?

It can cause a lack of direction, productivity decline, and increased burnout.

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Without guidance, laissez-faire leadership can lead to decreased productivity, with the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology reporting a 19% drop in productivity under laissez-faire leaders.

Lack of oversight and feedback can result in misaligned priorities and values across teams, leading to higher burnout.

Gallup found that employees under laissez-faire leaders are twice as likely to burn out.

What are the key advantages of democratic leadership for small businesses?

It boosts employee satisfaction, retention, and long-term growth.

Learn More...

Democratic leaders empower managers by involving them in decision-making, leading to better collaboration and engagement.

This style is linked to a 21% higher retention rate according to Deloitte.

The Harvard Business Review notes that democratic leaders represent 25% of managers in LLCs.

Their collaborative approach fosters innovation and creates an environment where managers are aligned with the company's vision.

How does transformational leadership improve team performance?

It encourages continuous learning, innovation, and empowerment.

Learn More...

Transformational leadership challenges employees to excel, contributing to a 22% performance increase (Leadership & Organization Development Journal).

It emphasizes open communication and career development through regular one-on-one meetings.

Teams are inspired to strive for excellence under a shared vision, and Gallup research highlights a 26% higher revenue growth rate for companies practicing transformational leadership.

Why is servant leadership growing in popularity among small businesses?

It prioritizes employee growth and well-being, fostering loyalty and long-term success.

Learn More...

Servant leaders build trust and psychological safety by prioritizing their team's growth and well-being.

The Journal of Business Ethics reports a 33% increase in commitment among employees working for servant leaders.

Companies with servant leaders see a 27% higher engagement rate (Gallup) and 71% achieve long-term success (Entrepreneur), due to the sense of shared vision and trust.

Can shared leadership benefit LLCs, and if so, how?

Yes, by creating a flat structure with open communication.

Learn More...

Shared leadership encourages collaboration and shared decision-making, leading to a flat structure that allows LLCs to innovate and adapt quickly.

It motivates employees by giving them a sense of ownership.

This approach supports nimble strategies, enabling managers to lead from the front and empower teams as involved partners.

Open communication keeps everyone aligned on goals, values, and shared success.

In Summary…

We’ve just presented a comprehensive analysis of the most popular leadership styles and their impacts on small business success.

As you’ve seen, each style has its unique advantages and challenges, as evidenced by data from authoritative sources like Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Gallup, Deloitte, the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, the Journal of Business Ethics, and Entrepreneur.

Leadership Styles Review

1. Autocratic Leadership:

While effective in certain contexts, autocratic leadership, where decisions are centralized, may not always be conducive to employee satisfaction and retention.

It’s vital for small business leaders to balance authority with employee input to avoid burnout and turnover.

2. Democratic Leadership:

This style involves more collaborative decision-making processes.

It fosters a positive work environment, increases employee satisfaction, and leads to higher retention rates.

Small businesses can benefit from this approach by promoting innovation and shared responsibility.

3. Transformational Leadership:

Characterized by inspiring and motivating employees, this style leads to increased performance, revenue growth, and long-term success.

Small businesses can leverage this to create a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

4. Laissez-Faire Leadership:

While autonomy is important, a lack of direction can decrease productivity and increase burnout.

Small businesses should aim for a balance between autonomy and guidance.

5. Servant Leadership:

Focusing on the growth and well-being of team members, this approach increases employee commitment and engagement, contributing to the long-term success of a business.

Practical Application

  • Employee Engagement: By choosing the right leadership style, you can enhance employee engagement and productivity in your business.

  • Decision-Making: Involving employees in decision-making can lead to innovative solutions and a sense of ownership among your staff.

  • Retention and Growth: Effective leadership styles have a direct impact employee retention and business growth.

To further explore how these leadership styles can be tailored to your small business, schedule a consultation call with Business Initiative.

We can help you implement the most effective strategies for your unique situation.

If you have specific questions or need advice, use our contact form to get in touch with our team faster.

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By understanding and applying these leadership styles, small businesses can create a more dynamic, engaged, and successful workforce.

The right approach can lead to improved employee morale, increased productivity, and sustainable business growth.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Business Initiative for tailored advice and strategies to elevate your business leadership to the next level.


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About the Author

jack nicholaisen
Jack Nicholaisen

Jack Nicholaisen is the founder of After acheiving the rank of Eagle Scout and studying Civil Engineering at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), he has spent the last 4 years disecting the mess of informaiton online about LLCs in order to help aspiring entrepreneurs and established business owners better understand everything there is to know about starting, running, and growing Limited Liability Companies and other business entities.