5 Leadership Styles (And How to Identify Yours)

When you think of a great leader, who comes to mind? Steve Jobs? Obama? Bill Belichick? While yes, all of these folks were known for the indelible impact their leadership left, they all have completely different leadership styles. In looking at why that’s true, it’s not hard to see the reason.

As we’ve studied the habits, nature, and lifestyles of successful leaders, the biggest cursor to great leadership boils down to is their personality. Now, while we may not like a boss or leader we’ve had in the past, that doesn’t necessarily mean they were bad at their jobs.

Sure, some may be hard-headed, but they could raise capital from top investors in a heartbeat. After all, we give and we take when it comes to leadership, which is why it’s important to start honing in on what makes your style unique.

For starters, take a personality test. I recommend the Myers-Briggs test, which is one of the most widely used tests, providing the most in-depth look at your habits and social behaviors. While some might consider this all to be silly, it’s actually the core of what can make or break a good leader. More likely than not, the hard-headed or brash boss mentioned above also knew their habits and traits. Even more importantly, they knew how to capitalize on them for future success.

Even if you don’t quite know what type of leader you are, that’s alright. We’re here to help.

Below, I’ve listed five examples of leadership styles, but I’ll note that these are only some of them, and can range quite a bit. Take the time to study your Myers-Briggs test results, as well as reflect on your day-to-day. With the right knowledge, you too could be the next one to make an impact.

1. Campaigners

Campaigners are excellent at rallying people behind a cause, product, or service. They’re the type of person who knows how to get others to gravitate towards the goal of changing the world. Generally considered extroverts, campaigners are great talkers but even better listeners. With a strong desire to not only figure out how they can change things, but how we can change things, they’re one of the best team captains out there.

2. Autocratic

These leaders are what we typically consider the stereotypical “boss.” That is, they love to dictate and have a stern vision for where they want to drive their business or mission. Autocratic leaders rarely take criticism or input from others, making hard and fast decisions based on their intuition and personal experience instead. While this style can be great when it comes to decisions made quickly, they’re sometimes considered unfavorable to work for given the lack of input or opportunity for growth. However, the world has definitely provided a few great ones.

3. Top Down/Delegator

This leadership style has become much more popular over the years. It expresses a collaborative effort in defined roles.  The core of the Top Down leadership style boils down to the ability to assign others to tasks/roles and let them take on the responsibility at hand that comes with it. They then have other leaders in similar positions collaborate, with the delegator serving as the oversight. Usually reserving the final say, delegators can be excellent at building large-scale teams with multiple subunits.

4. Collaborators

While similar to the “Top Down” style by having multiple people work together, collaborators are more inclined to have an open-ended structure, with all parties involved. This leadership style makes every employee/team member feel as though their input is valued, which is where collaborators get their motivation from. As they try to collect as much information and opinion from as many sources as possible, the overarching goal of a collaborator is to make decisions based on a group consensus.

5. Hands Off

A “Hands Off” leader follows in a similar vein to the Collaborator or Top Down, only with a way more extreme view on letting the company lead itself. While from an outside perspective it sounds ideal given the flexibility and freedom it provides, it can also be one of the most disastrous leadership styles if not performed well. However, when a seasoned veteran takes this approach and only interferes when necessary, it can provide an excellent culture that truly feels like the company was built by every person on the team.

What kind of leader are you?

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