“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. They are the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan

Understanding the various leadership styles is crucial for business support professionals. By understanding the different types of leadership, business support staff can anticipate leaders’ needs, adapt their support strategies and establish effective communication. 

In this article, we’ll define the term leadership and elaborate on some of the common differences between leaders and managers. We’ll also elaborate on the four main types of leadership styles in business and highlight the different personality traits that contribute to being an effective leader.

What is the definition of leadership?

Leadership can be defined as the ability to influence, guide and motivate others towards a common goal or vision. It involves taking charge and providing direction, inspiring and empowering others, making decisions and effectively managing resources and people to achieve desired outcomes. 

Leadership encompasses a range of qualities and skills, such as communication, integrity, vision, empathy, adaptability and the ability to inspire trust and build strong relationships. Effective leaders can set a clear direction, make tough decisions when necessary and inspire and support their team members to reach their full potential. 

Business support roles play a crucial part in enabling leaders to focus on their core responsibilities by handling administrative tasks, coordinating projects and ensuring smooth operations. By taking on these responsibilities, support professionals allow leaders to focus their time and energy on strategic decision-making, goal-setting and driving the organisation forward.

Leader vs. Manager

Having a managerial title doesn’t automatically make someone a good leader. Effective leaders possess management skills, while effective managers can demonstrate leadership qualities. These terms are complementary and organisations thrive when individuals can effectively balance both leadership and management responsibilities.

While the terms “leader” and “manager” are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two terms:


Managers primarily focus on tasks, processes and operations. They’re responsible for planning, organising and controlling resources to achieve specific goals. Their focus is on efficiency, productivity and ensuring that work is completed according to established procedures and standards.

Leaders, with their unique roles and perspective, prioritise the human aspect of their work. They possess the ability to inspire, motivate and guide individuals and teams in achieving a shared vision or goal. The essence of their leadership lies in empowering others, fostering innovation and nurturing a positive work culture


Managers typically have formal authority and derive their power from their position within the organisational hierarchy. They exercise control and enforce policies and procedures to ensure work is completed as planned. Managers tend to rely on authority and formal decision-making processes.

Leaders, through their qualities, skills and ability to inspire and motivate, earn influence even without formal authority. They establish strong relationships built on trust, respect and credibility. Leaders employ persuasion, collaboration and empathy as they guide and influence others in achieving common goals.


Managers typically have a more narrow and specific focus. They’re responsible for overseeing a particular department, team or project and ensuring that tasks are completed on time and within budget. Managers focus on achieving short-term objectives and meeting targets.

On the other hand, a leader adopts a broader perspective, focusing on long-term objectives and the overall direction of the organisation. Leaders inspire and motivate individuals, fostering a sense of purpose and commitment to a shared vision. They encourage innovation, embrace change and navigate uncertainties, driving the organisation forward.

Time Horizon

Managers typically work within established frameworks and adhere to existing policies and procedures. Their focus is on day-to-day operations, problem-solving and ensuring efficiency in the present.

Leaders, on the other hand, have a longer time horizon. They anticipate future trends, opportunities and challenges. They take a proactive approach to drive change and shape the future direction of the organisation. Leaders encourage innovation, take risks and adapt to changing circumstances.

4 Main Types of Leadership in Business  

Several different leadership styles can be observed in business and different leaders may exhibit a combination of these styles. It’s important for business support professionals to understand the different types of leadership styles as it enables them to offer the best assistance to leaders

By comprehending the nuances and characteristics of each leadership style, support professionals can align their support strategies and approach accordingly, ensuring a seamless partnership with leaders.

Four main types of leadership commonly discussed in business contexts are:

Delegative Leadership

Delegative leadership, also known as laissez-faire leadership, is a leadership approach that emphasises empowering employees and giving them the freedom to make decisions and carry out tasks independently. Rather than being a hands-on leader, delegative leaders trust their employees to accomplish their responsibilities without constant interference or micromanagement. They’re available to provide guidance and feedback when necessary but generally leave the decision-making process to their team members.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders focus on establishing clear roles, responsibilities and expectations within their teams. They create a structure of rewards and punishments based on performance and compliance with established rules and procedures. Transactional leaders emphasise goals, deadlines and performance metrics to ensure that tasks are completed efficiently. They provide feedback and corrective measures when necessary.

Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leaders maintain a high degree of control and authority over decision-making. They make decisions without seeking input from their team members and expect strict compliance with their directives. Autocratic leaders tend to have a clear chain of command and may not involve others in the decision-making process. This leadership style can be effective in situations that require quick decisions or in times of crisis, but it can also stifle creativity and initiative among team members.

Democratic Leadership

Democratic leaders involve their team members in the decision-making process, seeking their input and valuing their ideas and perspectives. They encourage collaboration, participation and open communication within the team. Democratic leaders promote a sense of ownership and accountability among team members and foster a positive work environment. This style can lead to increased engagement and creativity within the team, but it may require more time for consensus-building and decision-making.

It’s important to note that these leadership styles are not mutually exclusive and leaders often exhibit a mix of these approaches depending on the situation and the needs of their team and organisation.

10 Traits of a Good Leader  

Several traits contribute to making someone a good leader. While individuals may possess different combinations of these traits, here are some commonly recognised traits of effective leaders:

1. Vision

Good leaders have a clear vision of the future and can articulate it compellingly. They inspire others by providing a sense of purpose and direction and they can align their team members’ efforts towards achieving shared goals.

2. Communication

Effective leaders are skilled communicators. They can convey their ideas, expectations and feedback clearly and concisely. They listen actively, seek input from others and promote open and transparent communication within their teams.

3. Integrity

Leaders with integrity earn the trust and respect of others. They act ethically, demonstrate consistency between their words and actions and hold themselves accountable. They’re honest, fair and transparent in their dealings.

4. Empathy

Good leaders understand and empathise with the needs, perspectives and feelings of their team members. They show genuine care and concern and they take the time to listen and support their team members. Empathy helps leaders build strong relationships and create a positive work environment.

5. Confidence

Leaders exhibit confidence in themselves, their decisions and their abilities. They inspire confidence in others by displaying self-assurance, optimism and resilience, especially in challenging situations. Confidence encourages others to trust and follow their lead.

6. Adaptability

Effective leaders are flexible and adaptable. They can navigate change and uncertainty and adjust their strategies and approaches as needed. They embrace innovation, encourage experimentation and are open to new ideas and perspectives.

7. Decisiveness

Leaders are capable of making timely and informed decisions. They gather and analyse relevant information, consider various options and choose the best course of action. They’re not afraid to make tough decisions and they take responsibility for the outcomes.

8. Emotional Intelligence

Good leaders have a high level of emotional intelligence. They’re aware of their own emotions and can manage them effectively. They also understand and respond to the emotions of others, fostering positive relationships and creating a supportive and motivating work environment.

9. Resilience

Leaders face challenges and setbacks with resilience. They remain determined and focused, even in the face of adversity. They learn from failures, bounce back from setbacks and inspire their team members to do the same.

10. Accountability

Accountability for actions and performance is a key responsibility of effective leaders, applying it to themselves and others. They set clear expectations, provide feedback and recognition and ensure that everyone takes responsibility for their assigned tasks and goals.

It’s important to note that leadership is a dynamic and complex concept and different situations may call for different combinations of traits. Leadership can be developed and refined over time through self-awareness, learning and practice.


Understanding the various leadership styles is crucial for business support professionals. Whether it’s providing administrative support, coordinating projects or ensuring smooth operations, aligning their strategies with the preferred leadership style enhances their effectiveness. 

Recognising the traits that contribute to effective leadership allows business support professionals to cultivate these qualities within themselves and further enhance their ability to support leaders

By working collaboratively with leaders and utilising their understanding of leadership styles, business support professionals can play a vital role in enabling the success of the leadership team and the organisation as a whole.

Joss Search is a leading recruitment agency that specialises in helping businesses find the best business support staff. With our expertise and extensive network, we offer valuable services that streamline the hiring process and ensure companies have access to top-tier talent in the field of business support.


What are the 4 leadership styles summary?

Leadership styles can be summarised as follows:

  • Delegative Leadership: Empowers employees by granting them autonomy and freedom to make decisions and pursue their own development within the organisation.
  • Transactional Leadership: Setting clear expectations, rewarding or punishing based on performance, and emphasising task completion.
  • Autocratic Leadership: Centralised decision-making, strict control and limited input from team members.
  • Democratic Leadership: Involving team members in decision-making, promoting collaboration, and valuing their input.

Leaders may exhibit a combination of these styles depending on the context and needs of their team and organisation.

What is the best leadership style?

There is no universal “best” leadership style that applies to all situations. The most effective leadership style depends on various factors, such as the organisation’s culture, the nature of the task or project, the team dynamics and individual preferences.

Different leadership styles have their strengths and weaknesses, and each may be appropriate in different circumstances. 

Why is leadership style important?

Leadership style is important because it influences team performance, employee engagement and satisfaction. It shapes team dynamics, collaboration and the ability to adapt to change. 

Effective leadership styles contribute to talent development, succession planning and the establishment of a positive organisational culture. They impact decision-making processes and problem-solving approaches. 

Ultimately, leadership style plays a significant role in creating a motivating work environment, fostering teamwork and driving overall organisational success.