Four Types of Leadership Styles


Skillful leadership requires many things. Among them is being aware of your own leadership style – and how it affects other people. Knowing your style, and adjusting it to fit the needs of the situation, helps build trust.

This tool describes four different leadership styles. It shows you how to identify your own style, and then provides a chart showing the strengths and weaknesses of each style. Finally, it concludes with two exercises to help you become a more successful leader.

The Starting Point

Everyone has a “natural” leadership style that corresponds to his or her communication style. There are four basic communication styles: Director, Expresser, Thinker, and Harmonizer.

To determine your communication style, take the Straight Talk® survey and discover whether you are a Director, Expresser, Thinker or Harmonizer.

Interpreting Your Results

When you take the Straight Talk survey, you discover where you “fit” on the matrix below. Each of the four quadrants reflects one of the four basic communication styles. For example, if you are a Persuader, Dictator, Explorer or Initiator, your basic style of communicating is Director. If you are a Charmer, Entertainer, Diplomat or Socializer, then your basic style is Expresser, as shown below.

Watch 4 Videos About Communication Styles

Video #1 – The BIG Secret (It’s All About Style…)

Video #2 – How to Identify Communication Styles

Video #3 – Modifying Your Communication Style

Video #4 – The Straight Talk Toolbox

Watch the Free Video Course

Leadership Styles

Once you’ve figured out your communication style, refer to the chart below for the corresponding leadership style:

Assumptions of Each Style

Each leadership style makes assumptions about others because of the way that style processes and interprets information.

Modifying Your Leadership Style

Effective leaders change their leadership style depending on the needs of their organizations. At times they are forceful and directive. At other times they are empathetic and caring. In the box below appear some typical management challenges along with the leadership style best suited to it.

Leading Groups

As a leader of a group, you should try to help a group move toward a balanced style of communicating. For example, if a group is paralyzed by indecision, then a commanding style will get them moving. If a group is acting too quickly, then a deliberating or caring style is appropriate.

Here are four types of groups – again using the Straight Talk model – and the behaviors that typically accompany each group:

Exercise 1

Reflect on 2-3 decisions you made that didn’t work out very well. Then reflect on your leadership style. Think about the actual situation and remember how you performed. What could you have done differently? There are no right or wrong answers. However, your appraisal will help you develop your leadership skills.

Exercise 2

Reflect on a 2-3 decisions made by a group you supervise that didn’t work out very well. Then reflect on your leadership style. Think of the actual situation and remember how you performed. What could you have done differently? There are no right or wrong answers. However, your appraisal will help you develop your leadership skills.

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