The 7 styles of leadership 

What is it about you that makes people want to follow you? What is your natural style of leadership and which supporting styles do you use? What happens when you are put under pressure, which style do you then adopt and how satisfied are you with that? And which style would you like to develop more, and what results would that produce?

These are a few questions you should have at the back of your mind while reading this article. Whatever your answers may be, be aware that there are no good or wrong ones – because each style has its own advantages and disadvantages and works better (or worse) depending on the situation you’re in. For example: if a fire breaks out in a shop, would you want the staff to discuss with you the five different ways you can leave the building, or would you want them to take command of the situation and tell you what you have to do? In other words: enjoy the seven styles of leadership and what you can learn about yourself through them.

The Visionary

The leadership of the visionary is based on his capacity to visualise what the distant future will bring. He has a vision (dream) which he believes in for 200% and nobody can persuade him that his way of thinking is wrong. His main motivation is to get his vision to become a reality and to inspire others. He is not interested in knowing which concrete actions have to be taken to achieve this vision. He is convinced that the image he has sketched will inspire others so much that they will take the actions required to set things in motion. Any actions not materialising result in frustration and incomprehension: ‘How is it possible that the others don’t see it and don’t get moving?’ Some examples of visionaries are Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

The Magician

The leadership of the magician is based on his creativity and his powers of innovation. This leader thinks in chances and not in problems, is driven to translate his (ambitious) ideas into practical products and services, is willing to work hard for them, to take risks and manage others (sometimes in an aggressive manner). In this process, the magician wants to achieve transformations, not just realise small breakthroughs. An important difference with the visionary is his motivation. Examples of magicians are: Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Michelangelo and Stephen Spielberg.

The Emperor

The leadership of the emperor is characterised by the top-down manner of creating clearly defined goals and structures so that predefined results can be achieved in an orderly and quiet way. It is a hierarchical approach. ‘I know what is good for the company and what needs to be done’, ‘I am the head, and you are the hands’ and ‘Execute what I think up’ are a few of the frames of thought this person has. No discussion or questioning is tolerated, losing face is unthinkable and being ‘in control’ is essential. A few examples: Margaret Thatcher, Alex Ferguson and Alexander the Great.

The Warrior

The leadership of the warrior is based on action. ‘Don’t think, do’ is his motto. He is driven by his spirit of adventure and justice. If there is a mission in which he believes, he will fight for it and give it the full 100%. His manner is direct, aggressive if required, and he acts from instinct. He has no desire to talk for hours about all the pros and cons. He considers this a waste of time; ‘Let’s get it done.’ If mistakes are made, that’s not a big deal. Better to make a mistake and to learn from it, than to stagnate and therefore retreat. If the same mistake is made more than once, this tolerance of faults is soon forgotten. A few examples: George Washington, Robin Hood and Admiral Nelson.

The Orator

The leadership of the orator is based on his capacity to express himself clearly and coherently. He is able to empathise with his ‘audience’ and uses their themes and language to spread his own message. Additionally, he is a master at interweaving his own life story, thereby creating an emotional connection with the other. What motivates him is exerting his influence and the sincere belief that his message is crucial for everyone. Where the visionary lives in the future, the orator lives in the present. A few examples: Barack Obama and Adolph Hitler.

The Guru

The leadership of the guru is based on his assumed wisdom. He is admired by others and considered as someone with much knowledge and many insights, and who shares these with the world. Disciples go in search of him and are eager to learn from him. He himself is driven by curiosity – the more he knows, the more questions he has. Where ego plays an important role in the previous leadership styles, the guru is not interested in himself but in the role he can fulfil in the bigger picture. A few examples: Albert Einstein, the Dalai Lama and Mahatma Ghandi.

The Giver

The leadership of the giver is based on his basic attitude of ‘serving’. Achieving the higher goal together is important for him. To achieve this, this leader ensures that the others can operate from their strengths, that they have access to the resources they need, and that the ‘honours’ for any achievements made actually go to those that deserve them. At the same time, the giver is always looking to see how he can contribute to the higher goal, from a position behind the scenes and not in the spotlights. Another characteristic is the basic attitude of giving others space, and an understanding frame of mind. One example: Mother Teresa.

What is your preferred style of leadership and what are your supporting styles of leadership? Which examples of leaders do you know with respect to the various styles of leadership? I would love to know what you think, so why not leave your comments below this article?

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