Answering "What Is Your Leadership Style?" in an Interview

a picture of business person and describe your leadership style

If you’re preparing to interview for a management position, you might be getting prepared to get asked, “What is your leadership style?” This is a tough question to answer.

We’re going to go through all the information you need to know to prepare yourself with not only answering this question but having knowledge about the various leadership styles you can choose to display.

Let’s go ahead and get started.

Who Gets Asked This Interview Question

This interview question comes up for those who are interviewing for leadership or management positions. It can even come up for those who are interviewing as a Project Manager or Product Manager.

Anyone responsible for a team and ensuring that a team gets their work done accurately and on time will get answered this question.

Related: 6 Underutilized Leadership Skills For The Workplace Or Resume

What The Interviewer Wants To Know

The interviewer wants to know that you’ve had experience leading a team. This means that if you can include a short introduction regarding your prior leadership experiences before giving your leadership answer, you’re going to exceed the interviewer's expectations.

Ideally, you can communicate to the interviewer that your leadership experience is part of your experience being a manager. That you know how to influence and motivate people to do their work.

What Makes Up A Good Answer

The ability to answer this question is quite simple. The first part is knowing what type of leader you are. And having the working history of being able to back it up. Something that relates to your resume.

The second is the ability to communicate that leadership style and why it’s valuable or why it works for you. There are various leadership styles, so when the interviewer asks for you to describe yours, it can be unique.

The two qualities that make up a great answer are:

  • Your ability to know your leadership style
  • Your ability to communicate how it is leadership

Related: Answering “What Are Your Leadership Examples?” In A Job Interview

The Various Types Of Leadership

There’s a lot of different types of leadership. And it’s optional if you want to include these styles in your answer. These are for the formal business management styles of leadership.

  • Democratic Leadership
  • Autocratic Leadership
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Transformational Leadership
  • Transactional Leadership
  • Coach-Style Leadership
  • Bureaucratic Leadership

For this article and answering your interview question, we’re only going to focus on 3 of them here: transformational, transactional, and coach-style.

The Various Methods Of Leading

From the above list, we know the styles of leadership. But what about the methods of leadership? The difference is that leadership styles have a process associated with them. The methods of leadership are regarding your approach.

For example, do you spend time trying to lead. Or do you let people make mistakes and then correct them afterward? There’s a difference between those two approaches. The first is active; the second is passive.

Here are the three methods you should be aware of:

  • Passive
  • Active
  • Hybrid

If you choose to use the fact that you are a hybrid, then you should explain that the way you lead depends on what’s required of the job at that moment. Which is a great answer!

Leading Through Accountability (Transactional vs. Transformational)

The best ways to describe your leadership are through transactional and transformational leadership. These are the two easiest to remember.

Transactional leadership is when you provide someone a list of tasks and ask them to accomplish those tasks. This would be the perfect type of leadership style for those who are applying for Project Management positions.

Transformational leadership is when you provide groups of people insights to achieve their work better. For example, describing a challenge and ideal outcome to a team. This is the best leadership style for those who are applying for VP positions or senior management positions.

2 Example Answers To “Describe Your Leadership Style”

Below are a few example answers to “describe your leadership style” using the information we’ve gathered from the guide.

Example one

I find myself having a hybrid method of leadership, both passive and active. Taking each instance of what’s required to motivate the team uniquely. Ultimately, I am always trying to lead through transformational leadership. Helping to inform our team and align their motivations to produce ideal outcomes. This is how I’ve found myself leading in the past and doing so with good results.

Example two

Leadership, for me, is an active method. I want to be proactive about how I can help to inform our team members. Though I recognize the difference between transformation and transactional leadership, I find that transactional leadership is best for a Project Manager because my goal is to be diligent in what the project requires and making sure each task is done on time and with the business requirements in mind.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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