Different Leadership Styles in the Public Service

Last Updated: 21 Mar 2023
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There are several different leadership styles used within the public services. Therefore there are many varied suggestions that define someone as being a strong leader. However a ‘leadership style’ is a unique style that people recognise to encourage or influence other people in a way others do not so that they admire and want to be like. A team leader’s role in the public services is to provide instruction and direction and guidance and leadership this is to help inspire and encourage the team to reach their goals and aims.

They have to keep the team focused on there current task or tasks and be able to communicate within their group effectively. Team spirit needs to be kept positive so that this ensures that tasks assigned are completed on time and that the group’s standards are always kept high. The three main Leadership styles used in the public services: Authoritarian

The Authoritarian leader makes quick, clear and precise independent decisions without any input. Even if there was, it wouldn’t affect the overall decision making as it needs to be decided quickly. The appropriate leader that would use the common traits of an authoritarian leader would be an officer in the army because usually they are loud and demanding. Democratic

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The democratic leader involves the whole team having an input in the decision-making. The team members can give opinions that may affect or influence the final decision. The team leader is still responsible for the final decision but after listening, taking in account all the opinions and weighing them up. The appropriate way this style can be used is in the fire service, for example, rescuing a person or people in a burning building therefore it needs more than one person to help decide the best decision. Laissez faire

The laissez faire leader more of an independent off hands approach. This style is only used if the leader has a lot of trust in the team and relies on them to get on with the task in hand with high standards and little direction. However the team has a lot more freedom to achieve because they are highly motivated and feel empowered. For example the most effective way this style could be used is if you gave a police forensic team to go out and complete a task.

Other leadership styles used in public services


The transactional style of leadership is pretty straight forward but it uses rewards and punishments to motivate the team. This is a style of leadership that is similar but not as extreme as the autocratic style. The transactional styles are direct and dominant and spend a great amount of time saying what is expected from the team as a whole. The leaders monitor the work and each and everyone’s individual performance, there is also a clear chain of command. Transactional leaders are very commonly found within businesses where people are given rewards such as bonuses, training or time off if they show a good demonstration.


The transformational style of leadership focuses on the team’s performance as a whole, it encourages everyone to think of the group as a whole and rather not just themselves. Transformational leaders aim to make their team members better people by encouraging their self-awareness, it’s all about moving forward in a team and not just several individuals in one group. An example of transformational leadership would be within the army where as a team you all have to move forward and stick together in a group ‘’never leave a man behind’’.


The bureaucratic style of leadership is a style of leadership that focuses on rules and procedures to manage teams and projects. This is a classic style of leadership that is used quite a lot in organisations that don’t encourage innovation and change by leaders who maybe insecure and uncertain in what their role maybe. It is defused among a number of departments or people where there is a strict set of rules. This approach to leadership is commonly used in uniformed and non-uniformed public services. Bureaucratic leadership is common in jobs were safety and efficiency is very important. Occupations would include fire-fighters, police, nursing, and the armed forces. People orientated

People Orientated is slightly similar but a bit different to the task-orientated leadership. Within this style of leadership, this style focuses on participation of all the team members, clear communication, supporting and developing the individual in order to improve their skills. The members of this team inspire other people by unlocking their own potential, this style is participative and encourages good team work. As an example in the police if a woman has kids the leader would let her go home and ask others to stay behind. Task Orientated

In this style of leadership it’s all about getting the job done. It’s all about the key of the task rather than about everyone else in the team. Their main focus is just to get the task done weather it is instructed or unstructed. This style can have many difficulties such as difficulties of the lack of motivating and the retaining the team as a whole. An example a police inspector organising crowd control at a football match may use a task-cantered approach.

Comparing and Evaluating the three main styles of leadership The three main types of leadership styles are Autocratic, Democratic, and Laissez-faire. Autocratic is when the leader has complete control, and no one else gets to make decisions. Despite that they get many tasks completed, morale is low. Democratic is considered to be the best. Everyone has a voice on how things are done. People who are then the leader have better morale, and get better quality of work done. Laissez Faire is when the leader plays no role in completing objectives. Very little is achieved under a Laissez Faire rule. If a civilian was trapped inside a vehicle after an accident collision the fire brigade would be called to assist within the accident.

The type of leadership style I would use in this scenario would be the democratic approach, my reasons for this are that the team need time to consider the best possible option/decision to bring about the best result. In my opinion I would not use the Autocratic approach as this is where a leader needs to think and act fast without no input from their team. In this situation thinking and acting fast might not bring about the best result as you need to consider if the victim trapped in the vehicle has any injuries that might affect his removal from the vehicle, or any problems with the vehicle it’s self such as a dangerous leak that could potentially cause an explosion or a fire.

Related Questions

on Different Leadership Styles in the Public Service

What are the 4 types of leadership styles?
The four types of leadership styles are autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, and transformational. Autocratic leadership involves a leader making decisions without consulting their team. Democratic leadership involves the leader consulting their team and making decisions together. Laissez-faire leadership involves the leader delegating tasks and allowing their team to make decisions independently. Transformational leadership involves the leader inspiring and motivating their team to reach their goals.
What are the leadership styles in public and private sector?
In the public sector, leadership styles tend to be more hierarchical and structured, with a focus on following rules and regulations. In the private sector, leadership styles are often more flexible and creative, with a focus on innovation and problem-solving. Both sectors also rely on strong communication and collaboration between leaders and their teams.
What are the best leadership styles in public health?
The best leadership styles in public health depend on the context and the goals of the organization. Generally, a combination of transformational and servant leadership styles are most effective, as they emphasize collaboration, communication, and the development of a shared vision. Additionally, a focus on equity and inclusion is essential for successful public health leadership.
What is the 7 most common leadership style?
The seven most common leadership styles are autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, transactional, transformational, servant, and situational. Autocratic leadership involves a leader making decisions without consulting their team, while democratic leadership involves the leader consulting their team and making decisions together. Laissez-faire leadership involves the leader delegating tasks and allowing their team to make decisions independently. Transactional leadership involves the leader setting goals and rewarding team members for meeting them. Transformational leadership involves the leader inspiring and motivating their team to reach their goals. Servant leadership involves the leader putting their team’s needs first and helping them to reach their goals. Lastly, situational leadership involves the leader adapting their style to the situation and the team’s needs.

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Different Leadership Styles in the Public Service. (2016, Aug 06). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/different-leadership-styles-in-the-public-service/

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