4 Leadership Styles For Entrepreneurs- Which One Are You?

After such a great response from our last post on entrepreneurial leadership characteristics, we thought we’d write a Part II with descriptions of the 4 different leadership styles and how they match you and your organization.



Authoritarian leaders control almost everything around them with no participation from employees. Employees may not like the authoritarian leader, as it gives them less freedom and room to create initiatives.  These leaders are also known to bossy and perhaps less focused on their employees’ emotions. However, some believe it is the best style to get things done right without losing time, as you don’t have people questioning every decision you make.

Donald Trump, who is the definition of an American success story at times can be seen as an authoritarian leader. By centralizing decision-making, and wielding absolute power, he limits input from a select few in his team. Whatever his employees may think of this leadership style, it allowed him to reach a high level of excellence in his business.  


The paternalistic leader is a dominant style where the leader will wield her power and influence and expect loyalty and obedience. In the paternalistic leadership style, there is still a great amount of authority, but this leader is more willing to help her employees become more efficient.  This leader has compassion for her employees, yet she will make the final call.  While the hierarchical distance between employees and manager is still significant, respect and admiration for the latter is a key component of successful paternalistic leadership.

For all of you football (soccer, for the Americans) fans out there, the great manager Jose Mourinho represents this style of leadership. He is highly respected by his players, due to his experience, his career and his knowledge. The trust he puts in his players helps to build a relationship that leads to great results on the pitch (field).


Democratic leadership is a participatory style, in which your employees have a say in the decision process. Democratic leadership can be very popular with employees, as their opinions are heard and they are free to voice concerns.  As a democratic leader, a crucial task is being ready to commit with conviction, as this type of leader will often get presented with many possibilities.

US President Barack Obama is an example of a democratic leader. Surrounded by extremely competent people, one of his most significant tasks is gathering information from the people around him and then choosing the best option to solve problems.  He must use the information and opinions of the people around him to confidently make decisions that affect an entire nation.


The laissez-faire leadership style literally means “hands off”.  This is a style that can be very comfortable for entrepreneurs, as this person has the ability to focus on the business and solving problems, while the people around her strive to follow that lead.  This style is all about setting the right tone so that others will instinctively follow this leader’s example.  To carry out this style of leadership requires trust and hiring the right people.  

Warren Buffet is a good example of this leadership style. He believes in giving autonomy to a confident management team. He always has trust in the teams of the companies he owns and knows they are capable, confident, and motivated.