Become an Exceptional Leader: What’s Your Leadership Style?

Executive coaching is often used to develop the capabilities of leaders and executives. Done correctly, it’s extremely effective, with both immediate pay-offs and long-term benefits. During a coaching engagement, one question often asked is, “What’s my leadership style?”

This is important because an effective executive coach never imposes a formulaic solution on an executive, or force-fits a rigid action plan. Depending on your coaching goals, an awareness of your leadership style (presently), and who you want to become as a leader may be a vital step in developing a deliberate coaching process suited to your particular needs and objectives.


The Association for Talent Development highlights five fundamental leadership styles.

Managerial Leadership

The managerial leader focuses on directing and controlling people and processes. Their success comes from power, control, formal authority, and personal results. They tend to want to be served (rather than serving others) and they typically like to make final decisions themselves. They are often described as traditional “command and control” leaders.

Relational Leadership

The relational leader uses interpersonal connections and relationships with others in order to influence and lead people. Their focus is on swaying, convincing, and empowering people. Their leadership stems from the strength of their relationships and the perception of moral authority. People tend to follow relational leaders because of who they are, not what they know. This type of leader develops mutual respect, and works well with others.

Motivational Leadership

The motivational leader focuses on delivering results for themselves, their teams, and their organizations. They are process-oriented and tend to have more developed functional competencies and expertise. People see them as leaders because of both who they are and what they know. Motivational leaders seek win-wins, are trusted by others, and have a reputation for getting things done.

Inspirational Leadership

The inspirational leader focuses on growing themselves to help others grow and develop. They are people-oriented and energize, animate, and influence others from the inside. People follow inspirational leaders because they truly care about others. Their success is built on the power of relationships, their moral authority, and the development and growth of others.

Transformational Leadership

The transformational leader has a strong desire to serve and develop others. While they excel at building relationships, they also possess high levels of specialized knowledge and functional expertise. Over time, they build strong reputations and are highly respected — they become known for nurturing and developing leaders.

Which leadership style do you think best captures your current attitudes and behaviors?

As part of Arden Coaching’s process, we employ a robust 360-degree assessment. In addition to examining your skills, habits, and interpersonal behaviors, we often explore leadership styles — a useful step to help you become an exceptional leader. For another perspective on leadership styles and behaviors, please read an earlier Arden Coaching article, “Responsive vs. Reactive Leadership: A Comparison.”

To learn more about executive coaching, and our 360-Degree Assessment, contact us at [email protected] or 646.844.2233.