What Are the 5 Leadership Models and How Can You Use Them?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 16, 2022

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Outstanding leaders are important for the success of businesses. There are several types of leaders, each with their own approaches to productivity, conflict, and their employees. Understanding the differences between leadership styles is important for knowing how to interact with different models of leadership and can help you lead employees. In this article, we explain what leadership models are, define leadership in business, list the different types, and explain how to implement the right model to help you find success in leadership.

What are leadership models?

Leadership models are different styles of leading, made up of specific behaviours which are better suited to particular situations or environments. It is possible for leaders to fit into a single leadership category, while others identify with different models, adapting them to best fit their leadership needs. A leadership model provides frameworks for how to lead staff. It is different from a leadership style, which represents the way an individual leads based on a combination of their personality, workplace culture, and ideals they used from different models of leadership.

Related: How To Answer "What's Your Management Style?" in an Interview

What is leadership in business?

The definition of leadership in business can vary depending on the situation and who's involved. There are different ways to manage employees in achieving goals specific to their company and the roles they have. Leaders determine the culture of an organization, and set the performance expectations of their staff. It is vital to understand the differences between models of leadership, and make a calculated decision about which suits your organization the best. Leaders usually possess the following traits:

  • confidence

  • honesty

  • clear communication and active listening

  • problem-solving

  • motivational personality

  • efficiency

In business, how leaders direct, guide, motivate, and inspire their employees has a profound effect on the overall success of the company. This can mean success in customer or client satisfaction, profitability, or corporate reputation. Employees may benefit from models of leadership that foster collaboration, or from models that prioritize organized systems. Choosing the right leadership model for your business requires you to assess what success means for it, and what employees need from your leadership.

Types of leadership models

There are many types of leadership styles, but many of them are within the broader categories of leadership model, including:

Team-oriented leadership

Team-oriented leaders foster a collaborative team environment in which they nurture each team member's strengths. They encourage their staff to reach their maximum potential both as individuals and as a team through consistent motivation and teamwork. Team-oriented leadership is a form of people-oriented leadership, and is often the most effective in efficiency, employee engagement, productivity, and employee satisfaction. The leadership styles that relate to the team-oriented leadership model are the following:


Participative leadership is a combination of subcategories of leadership called authentic, authoritative, and group-think leaders. These subcategories each focus on productive feedback and open communication to bring a team together to succeed. A participative leader, or democratic leader, strives to motivate their team to set and achieve goals and design efficient processes to facilitate the highest possible level of productivity. What distinguishes participative leaders is that they seek feedback and participation from employees in making decisions that affect the rest of the team.


Affiliative leaders excel at building teams where the members work well together to increase productivity and effectiveness. These inspirational leaders motivate their staff to collaborate to solve problems and promote team dynamics. This type of leader often joins an organization to provide inspiration, team-building, and employee morale. They support their employees by keeping a culture that satisfies everyone within the group and freely offer praise to staff for their accomplishments.


Coaching leaders are goal-oriented, and seek to increase the success of their team by identifying their individual strengths and coaching team members to develop those. They provide personal support and tools to motivate them to contribute to the company's success. They develop growth-centric strategies to help ensure that their team reaches their maximum potential. Coaching leaders look at long-term goals and strive to create a productive work environment that increases the likelihood of success.


  • 10 Common Leadership Styles

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Authoritarian leadership

Authoritarian, or autocratic, leaders have little interest in collaborative decision making, and are highly task-oriented. These leaders hold most of the control over their staff and prefer to motivate them through restrictions and punishments. This type of leadership can lead to tasks being completed quickly and efficiently, but can also lead to lowered staff motivation, less satisfaction in employees, and ultimately, a higher turnover. Authoritarian leaders usually display the following characteristics:

  • prefer structure

  • make decisions independently

  • focus on tasks

  • thrive with strict scheduling

  • assert unquestionable authority

  • focus on setting and reaching goals

  • motivate with rules and penalties

Country club leadership

A country club leader focuses on team members and relies on the concept that satisfied employees are naturally better staff members. They mostly use a pattern of positive reinforcement to encourage their team to achieve their goals. This leadership style, sometimes referred to as servant leadership, creates an environment of high morale and togetherness under the assumption that, when employees feel valued, they engage more in daily duties. This ultimately results in the company's overall success.

The theory behind the country club leadership model is that employees who feel appreciated enjoy their jobs more. This leads to a higher quality of work, increased loyalty to the company, and a pleasant and positive environment. A country club leader often focuses on the happiness of their staff, so they benefit from focusing on the goals of their team. Similarly, country club leaders can improve by establishing clear lines of authority and following through with reprimanding their staff when necessary.

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Impoverished leadership

The impoverished leadership model is one that remains largely detached from results of their team, teamwork, or motivating staff. This is a style of leadership that's typically best to avoid, but can be valuable to learn from sometimes. They tend to spend very little effort on team building or long-term development goals. Leaders in this model have little concern for the results their team delivers or for the wellbeing of the team itself. There are some advantages of this type of leadership, which can include:

  • employees can enjoy more freedom

  • employees are free to try their own ideas

  • facilitates problem-solving

These leaders use a “delegate and disappear” management style, essentially allowing their team to self-manage in their roles. Staff under this leadership model tend to manage conflict without the help of their managers. Leaders can remedy an impoverished leadership model by focusing on maximizing their time management, accountability, and efficiency. Impoverished leadership is common in businesses where managers have grown into their leadership positions without management training. Training in management teaches prospective leaders the skills to manage their staff with empathy, authority, attention to detail, and goal setting.

Bureaucratic leadership

Often, when managers are stronger administrators than hands-on leaders, they may manage with a bureaucratic leadership model. This type of leadership involves a heightened focus on results and performance, asserting a strict chain of command. Bureaucratic leaders typically implement non-negotiable processes, holding employees accountable to clear criteria and set of objectives that allow the manager to track results. This leadership model is best suited to industries that require strict following of safety standards and regulations. Bureaucratic leaders thrive when they can report to stakeholders and board members to facilitate their needs.

Related: 9 Types of Management Styles for Effective Leadership

Employing the right leadership style

To successfully implement your chosen leadership values, it's helpful to identify which parts of each leadership model promote the type of culture you want the company to experience. This also leads to the type of success you want for your organization. Different industries or environments benefit from different combinations of leadership values. This is why it's important to be flexible in trialing different methods and monitoring the short-term successes of each in terms of the work environment, productivity, and client or customer satisfaction.

Modelling leadership after only one style can manifest a specific culture in a company. Because people are diverse and multifaceted, one type of culture may be unsuitable for some employees. With a strong idea of the goals you've set for your organization, you can understand the skills, personalities, and individual strengths of employees to help you succeed.

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