There are many different leadership styles. Each leader has his or her own unique style. Effective leaders will vary their methods based on the context, the individuals concerned and the desired outcome. Your ability to adjust your style based on these variables is directly correlated with your leadership effectiveness and ultimate success.
It is well accepted that styles of leadership generally fall between one of two categories: Autocratic or free-reign. In autocratic or authoritarian style, the leader contains the control. As for the free-reign or laisser-faire style, the control has been given by the leader to the followers.
If you haven't read the Define Leadership styles article yet, I would encourage you to do so prior to delving into these specific leadership styles. The article will provide you with some critical insight!
Research by Kurt Lewin and his team in 1939 is still very influential even to this day. In addition to autocratic and free-reign, Mr. Lewin also defined the democratic style of leadership. Over the years many styles have emerged within the social vocabulary, but from my perspective, all of them can find their roots within these three styles of leadership:
Autocratic leadership, which is also being referred to as Authoritarian Leadership is defined by the fact that the leader is making all of the decisions and the followers are simply there to follow orders and to execute without deviating from the decision. Their participation in the decision making process is nonexistent. There are some situations where the use of the autocratic style is appropriate and actually the use of any other style would render your leadership ineffective.
Democratic leadership also known as Participative leadership entails that there is some participation from the followers within the decision process. However, these decisions are guided by the leader and he actively participates. The democratic style can take you and your organization to the top.
Free-reign style, like the name indicates, is defined by the reality that the followers have been granted all of the decisional power and there isn't any participation from the leader. This style, contrary to popular belief, is a must if you want to move toward the summit of your leadership career.
Your personal style of leadership as a whole is unique to each person, but your behaviours toward a given task are continuously traveling along both ends of this continuum. Depending on the task, you may have to switch from an authoritarian style of leadership to a free reign style or vice versa.
Tony Kippenberger, author of Leadership Styles (Express Exec), will provide you with foundational knowledge that will help you develop your effective Style.
It's important to note that each of those styles varies in intensity and will be filtered by your personality traits. This in turn will render you as a unique leader with a similar style to others.