What kind of team leader are you?

There are many factors which contribute to the success or failure of any business project. 

Everything from the resources at the project's disposal, to the type of project management methodology being followed, and even external factors such as economic or regulatory environments can influence whether or not a particular project is a success.

Another key factor that will play a role in the eventual outcome of any new initiative is leadership – namely, the personality and management style of the person who has been asked to head up the project. 

If you are a current or aspiring project management professional looking to better understand and improve your approach to project leadership, you should take the time to develop a better understanding of your leadership personality.

While no two project managers are alike, there are a number of broad leadership styles that can be used to classify an individual's project management methodology.

By examining these various leadership styles, and determining which one best suits your approach, you can begin to better understand your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to project management.

Here are four common leadership personalities that might influence the management approach you take on your next project:


The authoritarian (or autocratic) leader is one who rules with an iron fist, making executive decisions without consultation with team members. 

Sometimes this approach can be beneficial, such as when a clear decision needs to be made quickly and without unnecessary delay. Other times, the authoritarian leader may make an inappropriate decision as they have failed to seek input from those with relevant opinions to add. 

Authoritarian leadership can also have a negative effect on team morale. Studies have shown that autonomy is one of the key drivers behind employee engagement, and taking this initiative away from employees could potentially contribute to a less-committed workforce. 


On the other end of the scale is the laissez-faire leader – the manager who awards all decision-making responsibility to the employee. 

Laissez-faire leadership is not a new concept. In fact, the term was first coined in 1939 by noted psychologist Kurt Lewin. However, this approach has grown in popularity in recent years as more organisations embrace flatter, less structured leadership models. 

There are many potential risks and pitfalls to a laissez-faire leadership approach. While this methodology may prove beneficial in projects with experienced, engaged employees, it can fall short and lead to problems amongst groups that require a more top-down management style. 


A transactional leadership approach focuses on setting clear strategic goals, and rewarding or punishing team members based on whether they achieve these goals. 

Transactional leadership requires clear and succinct delegation. Employees need to understand what aspects of the project are their responsibility, and how they will be judged on the success or failure of this initiative. 

It could be argued that transactional leadership emphasises a "steady as she goes" mindset. Transactional managers are focussed on maintaining the status quo and ensuring employees continue to hit ongoing targets, rather than making significant strategic changes.


Conversely, transformational leaders are very much focussed on achieving long-term improvements, and making beneficial strategic adjustments.

Transformational leaders focus on the big picture. They emphasise employee satisfaction and forward-thinking improvement. Rather than focussing on day-to-day priorities and short-term wins, they look to improve the motivation and engagement of employees in order to benefit the project in the long run. 

Obviously transformational leaders need to be very switched-on to the strategic goals of the organisation. They also need to be careful to ensure their commitment to future improvements does not end up compromising the ongoing success of the project. 

For more information on successful leadership and management methodologies, consider enrolling in an ALC Training PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Level Certification.