Episode 68

What's Your Leadership Style?

Published on: 27th February, 2023

Faithful on the Clock is a podcast with the mission of getting your work and faith aligned. We want you to understand Who you're serving and why so you can get more joy and legacy from every minute spent on the clock. Thanks for joining us and taking this step toward a more fulfilling job and relationship with God!

Want to join us on social media?

We'd love to have you stay up-to-date with the show on all our platforms!







In this episode...

What's Your Leadership Style?


Authoritative. Coercive. Transformative. Which leadership style best describes you? Episode 68 of Faithful on the Clock breaks down some of the most common types of leadership and then introduces a twist to help you think differently about them all. 


[00:04] - Intro

[00:37] - Leadership sets the tone for an organization and accounts for as much as 30 percent of the company’s bottom line.

[01:49] - Leadership styles are broken down in different ways, but the most important thing is just to grasp that things are going to look different from leader to leader.

[02:26] - Summary of leadership styles from Corporate Finance Institute

[05:28] - Summary of leadership styles from Daniel Goleman

[07:03] - The labels are not critical in looking at styles. But Goleman likely was on the right track in that he connected the styles to what was happening between people.

[07:37] - You can always go online to take a test to assess your style, but there are other ways to figure out where you lean, such as looking at the people you admire, considering your strengths and weaknesses, thinking of your personality, and getting insights from others.

[09:12] - Goleman asserted people flip-flip in and out of the styles based on their circumstances. You can think of leadership as a spectrum or ratio set, and all of us are capable of displaying any style in that spectrum or set.

[10:29] - Jesus was a powerful servant leader, but was also adept in other styles.

[11:52] - Because God is adept at all leadership styles, He can handle anything and be stable. We have a responsibility to model Him and prepare ourselves for His work by becoming adept in leadership styles, as well.

[12:48] - Prayer

[13:29] - Outro/What’s coming up next

Key takeaways:

  • Leadership style influences the company’s line by as much as 30 percent. So paying attention to the characteristics of your leadership is important. 
  • There are multiple ways of looking at or classifying leadership styles. The most important element is to recognize that traits vary.
  • Corporate Financial Institute recognizes seven leadership styles: Democratic, autocratic, laissez-faire, transformational, transactional, bureaucratic, and servant. 
  • Daniel Goleman proposes six leadership styles: Coercive, affiliative, authoritative, democratic, pacesetting, and coaching. 
  • Options for discovering your leadership style include taking a quiz, looking at the people you admire, thinking of your strengths and weaknesses, assessing your personality, and asking for feedback from others about what style they think you have.
  • Professionals often think about falling into one type of leadership style. But good leaders flip-flop through the different styles based on their circumstances. We are all capable of being any type of leader, but we might sit on one point of the spectrum most of the time.
  • Multiple stories from the New Testament reveal that Jesus was adept at using different leadership styles as necessary for His ministry. 
  • Recognizing that God can use many leadership styles means that He can handle anything and is stable. He is therefore worthy of your trust. It also means that, as we are made in His image, we ought to emulate Him and try to use different styles based on what life demands. Learning how to move between styles can equip you to respond better to whatever He might call you to do.


  • Come up with and implement at least one way to become more adept at moving between leadership styles, whether that’s finding a mentor, signing up for training, or reading about great leaders with different approaches.

What’s coming up next:

Sometimes people aren’t fired or laid off — they’re demoted. Episode 69 of Faithful on the Clock outlines what to do if that happens to you, leaning on the story of a founding pastor who was told to step aside.

Support the show!

Visit the Faithful on the Clock Patreon page to choose a tier plan and become a supporting member. You'll gain access to goodies like early episode access, newsletters, and more based on the plan that's right for you.

Support this Podcast


Hi-dee ho, listeners. This is another episode of the Faithful on the Clock podcast, where every card in the deck stacks to get your faith and work aligned. I’m your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and I’ve got a fun show for you today about leadership styles. And don’t let that phrase fool you, OK, because everybody can lead regardless of what position they might actually have in a company. And the better you know your style, the more you can use it to benefit yourself and others. So let’s dive right in!


So with no delays at all, the big point I wanna make is that leadership styles really set the tone for the group or organization, meaning that whatever style someone is using ends up having a huge influence on how people feel connected to each other and to the work they’re doing. And this ties directly to the bottom line. Daniel Goleman — you might know him as the guy who literally wrote the book on emotional intelligence — he did a study of more than 3,000 middle-level managers to see how different leadership behaviors influenced profitability. And what he concluded was that a manager’s leadership style accounts for 30 percent of the company’s bottom line. So just to put that into a little context, you know, you’ve got a small business, 30 percent, that might be the difference between getting off the ground or shuttering. And if you’ve got a larger company, 30 percent, that can get into millions of dollars pretty quickly. So when you look at things like the influence on communication or how engaged people are and how that connects to the dollars and cents of things, paying attention to leadership styles is super important, regardless of where your company might be at in terms of size.


Now, there are a few different schools of thought around leadership styles, so you might see them broken down a few ways. And I want to make sure to point that out because there are so many things to consider in leadership that, based on your perspective, you might not necessarily subscribe to a certain number here. So don’t get too lost in that, OK? The main thing is just that when you look at the schools of thought, you understand that things are gonna look a little different from one leader to the next, and that if you can clue into some of the common traits, you’ll have a better idea of how to adjust what you’re doing for your team or maybe how to communicate with your manager.


So that being said, one grouping of leadership styles that I found from Corporate Finance Institute asserts there are seven main leadership styles. Democratic leaders, they collaborate well and take everybody’s insights into account. But getting all those insights, you know, that does have a time cost. Autocratic leadership, that’s the polar opposite of democratic. The leader just kinda puts their foot down and makes all the decisions. Now, that can get things done really quickly, especially if the leader really knows his stuff about what’s going on, but people can get unhappy pretty fast, too, because they don’t have a say in anything. Laissez-faire, that’s the third style. And here, the leader basically says, I’m going to interfere as little as possible and let the team figure things out. The benefit here is that everybody can feel empowered and contribute their own ideas. But when you don’t really have a single voice at the helm, you can pay the price in chaos and disorganization. Transformational leadership is the fourth style. With this option, the leader, you’re gonna see them pushing the team to go beyond what they’re familiar with. And this can be absolutely incredible for change and innovation. But sometimes transformational leaders can shake things up too much and not pay attention to what the individuals within the organization really think or feel. Now, transactional leadership, you see this in things like sales. And the gist of this style is that everything I give, you give back. So if you think of a transaction or an agreement, you know, you’re not gonna mess with a contract too much once it’s signed. So transactional leadership is very clear. It’s good for setting expectations really well. But when things are spelled out to the letter like this, well, you know, where is innovation supposed to come in? A lot of the time, it doesn’t. Number six is bureaucratic leadership. And I know you all are gonna love this one, because it’s all about procedures. There is a policy for every stupid little thing, and power usually runs top down with a lot of red tape all the way to the bottom. It’s not a very motivating style, BUT it can be necessary when you’ve got work where you’ve got a lot of safety considerations or really priceless assets involved. So it does have its place. Then lastly, you’ve got servant leadership. And this one is all about the leader putting the needs of the team above their own needs. There’s really good modeling and integrity, but sometimes servant leaders, you know, because they’re willing to be more self-sacrificial, if you will, competitors can just have a heyday with them. Because they just don’t have this attitude like, OK, I need to be cutthroat and make sure I personally come out ahead. No, their mentality is I will do everything I can to make sure others can finish the journey they’re supposed to walk. So that’s just, I tried to just go through those very quickly and just give you a taste of what the styles look like.


Now, if you hop over to Daniel Goleman again, he did his own leadership style classification, and he suggested there are six styles — coercive, authoritative, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and coaching. And I don’t wanna dive into these a ton, but what I love about this classification is that Goleman applied his emotional intelligence ideas to the styles. So it’s not just about what the leaders do, you know, its traits, it’s also about all the interpersonal skills. But democratic, that’s essentially the same as in the other classification system we had. Coercive, that’s the same as the autocratic leader. Affiliative leaders, they’re great about making things positive, they give tons of praise and all that. But they kind of suck at giving much direction or correction. And what Goleman calls authoritative, this is where you have somebody give people a vision, but the team then kind of decides together how to make that vision manifest. Pacesetting leaders, they’re kind of similar to servant leaders in that you can get really good modeling. They’re gonna set a bar and be right there beside you to get there. But sometimes pacesetters' standards are so high people can get left behind. And then Goleman’s last style was the coaching style. You’ll see coaching leaders do a ton of one-on-one with people, so it’s fantastic when it’s really important that the team gel and understand each other to the nth degree. But of course, you know, what does that take? It takes time, and you don’t always have that.


So I wanted to cover these two groupings, again, just to show you, it’s not like things are set in stone. It’s not so important that you remember a label as it is you just kind of pinpoint that each style really comes with its own set of beliefs around how to get things done and how to interact with other people. And that’s where I think Goleman was on the right track, because he defined the styles based on what’s actually happening between individuals, not just based on specific traits that you might see a leader exhibit like rigidity or optimism.


So with this as a foundation, in terms of, you know, figuring out what style you are, you can always go online and take a quiz or that kind of thing. But there are a few things you can do to kind of feel your way around this. And one thing I recommend you do is to take a look at the people around you that you admire. Because usually, when we admire somebody, it’s because we’re a lot like them or we see ourselves in them. So if you really like that your mentor is more hands-off, there’s a good chance you might show that, too. Then you can think in terms of your strengths and weaknesses, too. You know, if you’re really good at asking people what they need, that’s your strength, maybe you’re a servant leader. Or if your weakness is delegating to people, maybe you’re autocratic. And then a third way to look at this is, what’s your personality? So, do you really like connecting with other people? Maybe you’re extroverted and you really listen well. That could show that you’re maybe democratic or affiliative. And then, of course, I always remind people, we’ve all got our biases, OK? And it’s tough to see ourselves 100 percent accurately because of that, right? So I also really push people to go talk to other people and see what their impression is. And they don’t have to be like, “Oh, I absolutely know, you’re coercive.” Maybe they don’t define it in those terms, maybe they’ll just describe to you what they’ve observed you do. But that’s still gonna give you a bigger picture so you don’t mistakenly think you’re one style and you’re not.


Now. All of this brings me to a critical point. And Goleman pointed this out, too. But business leaders today, you know, there’s this idea still floating around that the style, is the style, is the style. And all that means is, you fall neatly into one style or another. But what Goleman pointed out, and what I agree with, is that people very often flip-flop in and out of the different styles based on the circumstances they’re in. So, you might have a case where, let’s — let’s say a company is on the verge of bankruptcy, you’ve gotta get somebody in there, make a deal happen really efficiently, well, you might need to be more autocratic in that situation. But then once things calm down, you might put on your transformational hat to help people get on board with all the changes that have happened, and to keep them thinking more innovatively so you don’t get back into financial trouble. And so what I want you to take from this is that leadership really is more of a spectrum, or you can think of it like a ratio set. We’re all capable of being any type of leader, of adjusting the ratio of behaviors we use. It’s just that we tend to sit in one position on the spectrum most of the time, and then based on what’s happening, we slide around a little bit.


So understanding that, I want to bring this back around to the Christian perspective. Because I know we usually think of Jesus as the ultimate servant, and in so many ways, He is. But I think what you’ll see is that Jesus was quite adept at using different leadership styles. So let’s just take a look at a few examples. Matthew 16:14-16, He asks His disciples for their thoughts on who He is. So He’s getting their feedback as a way to springboard into teaching. That’s democratic. John 4:1-6, you get the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, where he talks to this woman and teaches her one-on-one that He’s the Messiah who can offer living water. That’s coaching. Matthew 14:13-18 where He feeds the five thousand with just a few fish and pieces of bread, His directions were very clear, and yet He’s very much letting the disciples help in the distribution of the food. So that’s, again, more democratic. Then take a look at Matthew 21:12-13. This is where He goes and overturns the tables in the temples and drives out the tax collectors. I don’t think you can get more autocratic than that, where He was just not gonna stand for anything else. And again, He tapped those styles based on what was going on in His life, what was happening with the disciples and everyone around Him.


Now, why do I point this out so hard? Because I want you first of all to understand that because God can use any leadership style, He absolutely can handle anything. There’s just no situation where He cannot step in. And so that means He’s going to be stable for you. It means you can trust Him. But then I want you to see, too, that we’re made in God’s image. We’re supposed to emulate what He does. So mastering how to navigate through these styles when it is appropriate, is something that I genuinely see as part of our duty. It’s something that’s gonna prepare you to do whatever work He calls you to do. So if you know there’s a style that kind of makes you a little anxious, do the work. Go find somebody who can teach you how to work within that style, go take classes, read books, do whatever you gotta, do, but make sure you’ve got every tool in your toolbox to use on the job.


So that, I think is a good call to action, a good challenge to kind of wrap things up with. Let’s just come together for a moment, knowing that He’ll help all of us learn, and let’s pray.

Father in Heaven, I thank you today that we can count on you to lead us no matter what we might encounter. And I thank you that you can be so adaptable and just so understanding of what situations need. I pray today that you’ll give each of us insights about what our style tendencies are and help us find the balance we need in all the styles to serve you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


That’s everything I’ve got for you, everybody. Next episode, I’m going to be talking about what to do if you’re ever demoted or shifted to a position that’s not as great as what you had. That’s not quite the same as getting laid off or fired, so you have to handle that a little differently. Now I’m gonna be a little autocratic and just tell you, go subscribe to the show. Just go. Faithfulontheclock.captivate.fm. You can subscribe there or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks, everybody. Until next time, be blessed.

Next Episode All Episodes Previous Episode
Email Signup

Email Signup

Stay up to date on the latest news and releases from the podcast. Never miss an episode!
Thank you, you have been subscribed.

Support the Show!

Uplifted by an episode of Faithful on the Clock (or the entire podcast)? Show us some love by donating a tip!
Give a tip now
We haven’t had any Tips yet :( Maybe you could be the first!
Show artwork for Faithful on the Clock

About the Podcast

Faithful on the Clock
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Support This Show

About your host

Profile picture for Wanda Thibodeaux

Wanda Thibodeaux

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.

Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.