Throughout our careers, we’ve had multiple leaders that’s mold and shaped us into who we are as a professional today. Good or bad, we take signals from their leadership styles and we adapt ourselves to work within that environment. As there isn’t a one size fits all type of leadership, each leader adapt their own styles of leadership, one which they feel most comfortable with and works best for them. In the spirit of having a little fun, I’ve identified 10 different types of leadership styles.
As you read through the different types of leaders outlined below, try to think back on which of our former, or even present, leaders fits which of these leadership style. In the same context, think about how each of these styles worked for them, how effective these methods on you. Also think about what styles you think may fit you and something you would be comfortable with adapting as part of your own leadership style.
- The Friend Leader is a great leader for many. It’s a leader who’s always trying to be a friend to the team members. This leader wants to be part of the group, be in on all the gossips and conversations, and wants to participate in all the team social events. This type of leader may typically say things like “Think of me like your friend and not your boss”.It’s always good to connect with your team and team members. But the risk of being the Friend Leader is how and where to draw the line. This is a very tricky line to walk on as being that Fiend Leader, you can easily undermine your own authority. Needing to please your members, not wanting to be put on the out and be labeled the “boss”, you may make compromises and give in to your team members on issues which should not be compromised. And if it can happen once, the expectations are that it can and will happen again.
- The Hammer Leader is almost like the opposite of the Friend Leader. This leader has not the need nor the intention of being a friend to the team and its members, and makes it abundantly clear publicly. The Hammer Leader will “lay down the hammer” whenever issues arises. This leader has no problem with being strict, stern and directly blunt to get the point across. The objective isn’t to sugar coat the message, but the objective is to get his or her message across, regardless of how the opposition may feel. There is no sense of soft skill with this leader and he/she does not feel the need for it.Being able to lay down the hammer when needed is not only good, but it’s a necessary part of being a leader. Sometimes a leader must recognize when the situation calls for it, when the opposition is just being uncooperative and unwilling to constructively participate and the hammer must be slammed. Yet slamming down the hammer every single time, no matter the situation and circumstance is not advisable. The effect will be watered down and the longer term effect with the team and its members will too be at risk. The team will only know to fear, not to respect which is the real essence of leadership.
- The User Leader is more around us than what we would really want. The User Leader is someone who uses the team and team members to advance his or her own objectives, needs and career. Whenever the team or team member does something well, successfully achieve a major, or even minor accomplishment, this User Leader will take full credit for it. Without a shed of humility, this leader with stand up with head held high as all the praises and accolades are given to him/her. Never hinting that this may have been the team’s effort which led to the achieved success, this leader will proudly claim all the credit. As if that wasn’t bad enough, on the flip side, whenever something goes wrong, this leader will definitely be the first to point fingers at his/her own team, or specific team members, distancing himself/herself from the possible backlash.It is regrettable but most of us, if not all of us, have encountered a User Leader in our career. It is very difficult stay motivated under this circumstance and the situation isn’t sustainable. This type of leader tends to not have long term teams and team members. Employees tend to not like to be in this type of situation, under this type of leadership and will seek to jump ship at the first opportunity.
- The Abusive Leader is a very dangerous one to the team, team members, and possibly even the organization. This leader will randomly and regularly verbally abuse employees, not giving a second thought as to the outcome. This leader leads by fear, always wanting the team members to fear him/her, and respect is most likely misinterpreted with fear. Regardless of the context of the situation, if this leader is in a bad mood for a personal reason, he/she surely take it out on the team members just as a source of release.As an organization, this Abusive Leader can be a legal liability as it will no doubt be a Human Resource nightmare to deal with constantly. However, depending on the country and culture, there are some instances where this type of Abusive Leaders actually thrives. However, regardless of cultural acceptance or not, people don’t respond well to this type of abuse and negative reaction will occur.
- The Chicken Leader is quite funny and ineffective. This leader is afraid of just about everything and lets fear get in the way of the possibility of accomplishing great things. This leader fears what his/her team members thinks about him/her and always tries to make the decision to make the team satisfied. This trait is very similar to the Friend Leader. However, this leader is also fearful of actually making decision, as he/she is afraid of making the wrong decision. Therefore, this leader never truly makes any real decisions.Confidence and assertiveness are necessary traits of a good leader. Having a Chicken Leader who’s constantly afraid of everything doesn’t well for the team, nor the leader. This is a situation not build to last and sooner or later, changes will be made.
- The Meeting Leader loves to have meetings. For every topic and every situation, this leader would say “let’s call a meeting to discuss”, regardless of how small and simple the issue at hand really is. This leader just loves to have meetings and will not pass up an opportunity to have one. Even when the issue is so minor that it can be resolved and figured out over a phone call, or even an email, this leader still insists on getting a meeting time together.Meetings can be great and productive when used properly. Most leaders understands this and do use it sparingly. However, there are still a few leaders who just enjoys the meeting environment and the opportunity to be with the team in this type of settings. Handled correctly and this could be not such a bad thing.
- The Story Teller Leader always has a story to tell to elaborate on the situation. When a new issue is brought up, this leader would break off into a story about something else that could be used as a metaphor to the issue at hand. This leader is a fun leader who always has a good story to tell. He/she captivates the team and members with great stories and usually are very inspirational.Being able to tell good stories and use the as metaphors to describe and explain the issue at hand is a very difficult skill have. It takes a lot of work and effort to build the repertoire of stories that can be pulled from for any situation. But using stories is a great way to teach and allow people to remember the message meant to be conveyed.
- The Magician Leader is too a funny leader, but not in such a good way. When I say Magician, I’m referring to magicians who are known for their disappearing act. We all know magician has lots of tricks, but the most common trick is disappearing. The Magician Leader is one who constantly disappears and are difficult to be located when needed. As soon as you turn around, the leader is gone and can’t be located.Giving this leader such a playful name is fun. However, leaders shouldn’t disappear on their teams, especially in time of needs. Leaders should always be readily available at all times and make full effort to be easily found no mater what.
- The What Do You Think Leader is always seeking advice from the team and team members. This leader tries to always include the team in all decision making process, regardless whether the decision be big or small. This inclusiveness isn’t due to fear of making decisions, but the desire to build a team culture where everyone’s thoughts and opinion are valued and respected.Having an inclusive culture is a good thing, and should be encouraged. However, as a leader, sometimes you just have to make a decision on your own and trust that the decision you’ve made is in the best interest of the team. Including the team into the decision making process can often take up too much time and sometimes even cause more conflicts when a unanimous conclusion isn’t arrived.
- The Clueless Leader is one who is never aware of what’s going on, what the issues that needs to be addressed are and have no idea where to begin to address the problem. Due to the lack of awareness, this leader either doesn’t do anything and allows the team to do whatever they want, or tries to inject random ideas and decisions. Obviously neither of these options are desired.This type of leadership is better replaced with the Magician Leader. At least the Magician Leader doesn’t get into the way of progress. The clueless leader has the possibility of injecting random ideas which could derail progress made by the team.
It is unlikely that you’ve been able to avoid all of these types of leaders in your career, regardless whether you’re new to the workforce or if you’re a long time veteran in your field. It’s more likely that you’ve ran into several of these types of leaders already. Even though we’ve broken down these leadership types into 10 different styles, it is common for leaders to adopt multiple of these styles into one. That’s a good thing, as leaders should have more than one tool in their tool belt, more than one trick to their trade. While some of these types of leadership styles should be avoided, having several of the others and know when and how to use them can really help you be an effective leader.
Photo by: Ketut Subiyanto
Denny Nguyen, a veteran IT leader and experienced operational manager with 15+ years working in the software and software related service industry. Currently, Denny oversees global operations of LogiGear including IT infrastructure and services, and facility worldwide and marketing and business development for the APAC region.
Started out as a test engineer, Denny has excelled his career into project management, IT management, account management, customer relation management, and marketing and sales management. In 2004, when LogiGear began to establish its present in Vietnam with two Software Testing & Research centers in Saigon and the third center in 2009 in Danang, Denny was instrumental and the key leader who was chartered to build out the entire foundation and infrastructure for LogiGear to grow for the next twenty years.