In every company on the earth, there are people at the helms of the production floor or office building battling through the everyday grind to serve humanity to the best of their abilities. In these work environments, there are leaders by title and by choice.

I like Simon Sinek’s take on leadership best: “Leadership is a choice, not a rank. It’s choosing to look out for the person on your left and to look out for the person on your right.” With this definition, you do not need the title of boss, CEO, or manager to be a leader.

Did you know there are theories associated with leadership which are predictable behaviors based on research? Some contemporary leadership theories include transformational, transactional, situational, servant, and participative. You’ve likely worked for a few of these leaders in your career.

The 5 Leaders You Meet in the Conference Room

While it may be uncommon to encounter all five leadership types in the same room, let’s imagine you’re walking into your weekly team meeting first thing in the morning and all five leadership styles are present. This is what the room might look like:

The Transformational Leader

This leader is motivational and uplifting to team morale. He takes the company mission and values to heart and tries to get each employee to do the same. He’s the type of leader that encourages the janitor at NASA to be proud of his role helping to put a man on the moon.

The Transactional Leader

This leader is clearly focused on the tasks at hand and thrives on setting clear goals and objectives. She does not hesitate to point out the rewards of success and the pitfalls and punishments of failure. She wants each employee to perform well so the company thrives. After all, if your bonus is better, her bonus is better.

The Situational Leader

This is the highly flexible individual who understands his teammates’ capabilities and is in tune with the readiness and needs of others. He can adapt to any situation, being jovial with the social crowd and being serious with the down-to-business employees. He can get along with anyone and earn the respect of all.

The Servant Leader

This leader is always focused on serving her teammates’ needs first and doing her best to set others up for success. Through her acts of service, she leads others to do greater things and advance in their careers.

The Participative Leader

The last type of leader thrives on knowledge sharing and collaboration. He can easily share authority and take into consideration the opinions of his teammates when making tough decisions. He will often propose a plan to his team and ask for their thoughts and ideas.

Who Are Your Leaders?

What types of leaders are in your organization? Look beyond leaders by title to find the strong, confident, or soft-spoken leaders making a difference and motivating people every day. Try to emulate the leadership styles you respect or align yourself with leaders who motivate you.

Good leaders look out for others and help in their own way, no matter the style they exhibit. Having a mix of leadership styles in the organization can be a benefit as people respond differently based on their personalities.

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Shazib Syed

Engineer I

A biomedical engineer with a knack for commissioning, qualification, and validation. Experienced in Computer systems validation, equipment validation, and temperature mapping. A future MBA hopeful.


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Servant Leadership: Its Origin, Development, and Application in Organizations. (2002). Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9(2), 57–64.

Kuhnert, K. W., & Lewis, P. (1987). Academy of Management Review, 12(4), 648–657.

LAM, C. K., XU HUANG, & CHAN, S. C. H. (2015). The Threshold Effect of Participative Leadership and the Role of Leader Information Sharing. Academy of Management Journal, 58(3), 836–855.

McCleskey, J. A. (2014). Situational, transformational, and transactional leadership and leadership development. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 5(4), 117-130. Retrieved from