6 Types Of Sales Leaders

Sales management requires its own set of skills to lead a sales team. It’s not enough to be a good salesperson yourself, you now need to help your team achieve their maximum potential, all while navigating office politics and the strong personalities many sales professionals posses.

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While everyone has their own sales management style, it’s important to know the distinction between each and when to use them.

Here are 6 common sales leadership styles: authoritarian, paternalistic, democratic, laissez-faire, transactional and transformational:


Authoritarian sales leaders engage in one-way and downward communication, control discussion with followers, and dominate interaction.


Parental sales leaders could play favourites, including workers more apt to follow and excluding the ones who were less loyal.


Democratic sales leaders share decision-making with group members and believe everyone should play a part in the group’s decisions.


Laissez-faire sales leaders allow followers to have complete freedom to make decisions concerning the completion of their work.


Transactional sales leaders motivate through a system of rewards and punishments e.g. contingent reward and management-by-exception.


Transformational sales leaders work to transform followers’ thinking and inspire them with a sense of purpose and excitement.

What I recommend is thinking about your favourite past sales managers, what traits did they exhibit that fuelled you to reach your potential? What traits made you want to look for a new job? It’s understanding what motivates your team and what deters them that will help you succeed in your sales management role.

When we polled our community of sales leaders and sales professionals on LinkedIn, most sales professionals stated they preferred the Transformational and Democratic sales leadership styles. All said they couldn’t stand Authoritarian leaders.

While I know the above is true for most people, you also need to be able to adjust your style to the person and the situation.

I’d love to know, what traits do you feel make for a great sales leader? Join the discussion on LinkedIn with our leadership speaker or type your comment below.

Author Profile

Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.

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