I recently read a great book called The 9 Types of Leadership, written by Beatrice Chestnut ,a licensed psychotherapist, executive coach, and business consultant, and an authority on the topic of leadership. Beatrice was kind enough to let me share a summary of the nine types of leadership styles with you below. After you are done reading this list, figure out what type of leader you are, and what strengths and weaknesses that brings to your business. I can see elements of each of these nine types in my leadership style, so it is not necessarily "one size fits all". But, if I was forced to pick only one, I am a Type Seven.
According to the Enneagram System of Personality, a typology akin to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator but more textured and multi-dimensional, there are actually nine styles of leadership. Understanding the strengths and blind spots of the nine types of leaders can improve the effectiveness of the leadership within an organization by helping individual leaders become more aware of their gifts and weaknesses—or opportunities for development. The following is a description of the nine types of leaders in terms of their core characteristics, their key strengths, and the challenges connected to their strengths when they are overused or not leveraged consciously and intentionally.
Type 1: Doing the Right Thing is the Right Thing
Summary: Leaders who have a Type One style tend to be responsible, honest, reliable, diligent, and ethical. Their main focus of attention is on maintaining a high level of integrity and meeting high standards of quality or correctness in whatever they do. Type One leaders naturally address the “process level,” as structure, rules, and routine help them feel grounded in the basic processes required to create a quality product. Naturally detail-oriented, hard-working and responsible, their central motivation is to strive for excellence and virtue in everything they do.
Strengths: Type One leaders specific superpowers include a sincere desire to do the right thing, a strong focus on improvement and ethics, a commitment to clarifying processes to structure work and maintain high standards of quality in the things they do.
Weaknesses: While Type One leaders excel at being responsible, reliable, and hard-working, they can also become rigid and critical when they believe others’ aren’t doing a good enough job. While they try hard to behave correctly, they can be overly self-critical and may get controlling of others when they believe their way is they only right way. And, though they aim for high-quality, they may push for unrealistic ideals of perfection and judge or micro-manage people they believe are not working hard enough or producing good enough results. Fortunately, Type Ones’ sincere interest in self-improvement can mean they are open to seeing the downside of some of their personality tendencies. They will often make good use of constructive feedback to correct themselves, especially when the criticism isn’t overly harsh, even when the needed course correction means recognizing that their problem is being too focused on what is correct.
Type 2: The Power of Pleasing People
Summary: Leaders who have a Type Two style will tend to be empathetic, concerned about the human or “people” aspect of work, and sensitive to people’s needs, preferences, and feelings. They specialize in being charming and kind, powerful and competent, or attractive and exciting. They combine a focus on people with an ability to be productive in the service of the what is needed most by the team, the organization, or society. They seek to impact tasks, work products, and teams through supporting others, cultivating relationships, empowering people they like, and inspiring co-workers through flattery, warmth, and positive regard.
Strengths: Type Two leaders energetically support others, empathize with others’ feelings, have a natural orientation toward being of service, tend to be upbeat and friendly, and appreciate the good in others. Their superpowers consist of paying attention to delivering on what employees and customers need and creating positive working relationships.
Weaknesses: When they are not very self-aware, Type Two leaders may do too much for others (at the expense of their own needs) and end up feeling exhausted and resentful. They may focus more on others problems than their own, and they can be so focused on the positive in others that they have a difficult time delivering tough feedback when necessary. Fortunately, Twos’ sincere interest in the people they work with means that at some point they will realize that in order to really connect with others, they will need to connect more with themselves. When this happens, they balance out their natural inclination to focus on others with a healthy focus on their own experience as a way of creating an even stronger alignment and rapport with others.
Type 3: The Compulsively Productive Professional, or Getting to the Goal and Looking Good Doing It
Summary: Leaders who have a Type Three style tend to be work-focused, task-oriented, goal-driven achievers. You will find them (in copious amounts) at the highest levels of most organizations, as climbing the corporate ladder or being the best at whatever they are doing is exactly what motivates them. In fact, America itself is a Type Three country, so it’s not surprising that Type Threes do well in the business culture of America. The ideals of success, making a profit, working hard to get things done, and competing to win (and being able to buy things that reflect a winner’s status) is what America—and the Type Three style—is all about.
Strengths: Type Three leaders excel at setting and meeting goals, executing a plan and getting results, and working non-stop (and actually enjoying it). Three leaders’ superpowers are knowing how to sell themselves and whatever plan or product they are backing and working hard to succeed at attaining whatever goal they set. They also know how to project an image of success and craft the right image for whatever context they find themselves in. They have a sincere interest in collaborating with others to accomplish tasks which motivates them to evaluate how they are doing.
Weaknesses: Type Three leaders may also become overly aggressive and insensitive in the process of doing whatever it takes to reach their goals, fail to listen to work colleagues input, work obsessively to the point of breakdown, or stretch the truth in their drive to achieve success. Their talent for creating an image may lead them to value style over substance or a slick presentation over deeper emotional truth. When they can slow down and check in with their colleagues, they can combine effectiveness with a more reasoned and broad-minded assessment of how things are really going. By learning to moderate their desire for success with an openness to the lessons of failure (or at least some healthy self-doubt or self-examination), Type Threes can put their natural focus on getting the job done to work in support of achieving a worthwhile personal or organizational vision.
Type 4: The Power of Authentic Self-Expression
Summary: Leaders who have a Type Four style tend to be attuned to people’s emotions, passionate about the things they do, and dedicated to providing an environment where people feel welcome to express themselves authentically. They can be hard-working humanitarians, soulful artists, or passionate visionaries. But, whether they inspire others through their dedication to important human causes or their romantic and idealistic temperament, they combine a sensitivity to emotional experience with a drive to make an impact through the depth, creativity, and meaning they create and promote in the world.
Strengths: Type Four leaders often display a keen aesthetic sensibility in that they easily see and value the beauty and poetry in everyday life. Type Four leaders’ superpowers are the ability to automatically sense how others are feeling and readily intuit the invisible emotional connections that exist between people. They tend to be in touch with a wide range of emotions, which means they naturally empathize with the feelings of others and value authentic communication—even if that means talking about feelings at work, which many people would rather avoid doing.
Weaknesses: Type Four leaders can become frustrated when others don’t share their comfort with feeling and expressing emotions. They may also prioritize addressing the status of relationships or calling people out as inauthentic over work tasks and pay too much attention to what is missing in a situation and whether or not they are understood and heard fully. Fortunately, Type Fours’ sincere interest in people and forging meaningful connections means that they can often learn that in order to work well together, they may need to temper their requirements for mutual emotional understanding. When they can balance their own needs and feelings with a realistic understanding of what's possible in their work setting, they are able to offer their gifts and talents in a way others can appreciate.
Type 5: The Knowledgeable Observer, or the Quiet Authority
Summary: Type Five leaders can be the true “thought leaders” of the Enneagram—they enjoy gathering and assessing data and mastering the knowledge related to the work they do. However, when it comes to the human and emotional side of leadership, they may feel more challenged. Often self-deprecating and shy, Type Fives typically avoid the spotlight and are happier with the intrinsic rewards of leadership than the recognition that comes from it. They may be leading experts in their field, or make innovative contributions to new technology, or combine deep knowledge with an original vision of life. Whatever their focus, Type Five leaders readily dedicate themselves to drawing on intellectual insights to help themselves and others understand the world.
Strengths: Type Five leaders are particularly good at gathering and evaluating information, objective analysis and intellectual understanding, maintaining and respecting boundaries, and working independently. Their superpowers are connected to becoming content experts and locating and assessing the data to support the work they do.
Weaknesses: Type Five leaders’ preference for self-sufficiency may serve to isolate them from their peers and workmates. It may be difficult for them to work inter-dependently and have to communicate regularly with others to get work done. They may overdevelop their intellect and underdevelop their emotional intelligence, as they can feel awkward and uncomfortable when they have to deal with other people’s emotions. While they are humble and self-deprecating, they may have a hard time getting out in front and leading in a bold, strong way, when that requires a show of emotion or force. Fortunately, Type Fives’ sincere interest in drawing on their knowledge and objective vision to have a positive impact on the work often motivates them to overcome some of the obstacles they experience in forming easy and effective working relationships. When they feel valued for the insights they bring and invited to communicate about what they are thinking, they can be active contributors despite their need for personal space and independence.
Type 6: The Skeptical, Vigilant Trouble-Shooter
Summary: Leaders who have a Type Six style tend to be attuned to assessing threats and risks, solving problems, and analyzing what’s happening with an eye toward planning for the different scenarios that might unfold. Type Six leaders think strategically in terms of all the issues that could arise, and how those issues might be addressed such that goals, plans, projects, and people can be protected. They can be warm and sensitive questioners, intellectual analysts, or assertive contrarians. But, whether they help to solve problems through doubting and questioning, support solid planning through precision and analysis, or rebel against bad authorities with strength, they combine keen insight with a passion for supporting the underdog and so can bring courage and a revolutionary spirit to all their endeavors.
Strengths: Type Six leaders’ special superpowers include accurately assessing risks and threats, forecasting and troubleshooting potential problems in a plan or project, and performing insightful analyses of work processes.
Weaknesses: Type Six leaders can be so good at problem-solving that they become excessively problem-seeking. They can be so focused on what might go wrong that the people around them begin to view them as pessimistic, when they regard themselves as realistic. Type Six leaders can also be slow to take action and make decisions when necessary, as they can tend to get caught up in over-analysis to the point of analysis-paralysis. And, although they are loyal and reliable, they may have a hard time trusting others and having faith in positive outcomes. Fortunately, Type Sixes’ sincere interest in finding security means they will often do the work it takes to learn to trust people and engage with their team in productive ways, even if this means maintaining a certain level of vigilance for a while. When they can focus on proactively dealing with risks and solving interesting problems, they can usually develop good working relationships where they can put their analytical skills to good use and learn to have faith that things will turn out all right.
Type 7: The Innovative, Optimistic Visionary or Focusing on the Future (and Feeling Festive)
Summary: As leaders, Type Sevens are gifted at brainstorming and envisioning what might be possible. The Type Seven mind is essentially boundary free, which is what makes them good at generating many ideas—they feel free to come up with many ideas and make connections between ideas almost without mental limits. As future-oriented idealists, they tend to be visionaries who have a talent for imagining new possibilities. They may be pleasure-loving networkers or service-oriented cheerleaders or optimistic dreamers, but whatever their characteristic emphasis, Type Seven leaders possess a free-thinking entrepreneurial spirit that motivates them to keep the mood up and expand the frontiers of usual modes of thinking.
Strengths: Type Seven leaders’ superpowers include maintaining a positive attitude, using their imaginations to plan creatively and innovate, and inspiring others through their enthusiasm and vision.
Weaknesses: While Sevens can be good at lifting people’s spirits, they may avoid difficult but necessary conversations. While they tend to be optimistic and fun-loving, they may have trouble facing limits and seeing the negative data in a situation. And while they are good at thinking outside the box, they may have trouble working within reasonable constraints and slowing down to attend to the more tedious (but important) details. Fortunately, Type Sevens’ sincere interest in doing whatever they can to be effective and get results can often motivate them to pay attention to how their relentless positive outlook can sometimes derail things. When they can balance what’s great about their optimism and enthusiasm with an ability to slow down and consider all of the data and potential limitations, everybody wins.
Type 8: The Powerful, Decisive Activator or Moving Things Forward from a Position of Strength
Summary: Leaders who have a Type Eight style tend to be strategic thinkers, attuned to where the power lies and how they can establish their own power base. They focus on assessing the big picture, mentoring people under them, and making significant things happen. Others may find them intimidating, though they usually find this feedback surprising as they don’t intend to frighten people. But, their energetic presence is large and powerful, even when they aren’t saying anything or explicitly expressing power or aggression. Overall, they combine real strength with a desire to get things done decisively and quickly, whether they specialize in taking control to get what is needed, defending the weak from being oppressed by the powerful, or overpowering people with their rebellious, magnetic presence.
Strengths: Type Eight leaders main superpower is superpower. They are good at tackling tough challenges with confidence, taking bold action, being decisive, and empowering people to do their best.
Weaknesses: While they are good at confronting situations and people and engaging in conflict, they may dominate others when they fail to moderate their big energy and intensity. Type Eight leaders may be so preoccupied with making a big impact that they don’t have the patience to think through the details, and they may move into action too quickly without assessing the consequences of the things they say and do. They can be so ready to confront tough situations or people they see as incompetent that they actually create unnecessary conflict. Fortunately, Type Eights’ sincere interest in furthering the work—and the best interests of their team or organization—can motivate them to learn to adjust their tendencies to exert power and control as a go-to strategy. When they focus their considerable energy on becoming more aware of the tendencies associated with their personality style, they can often temper their strength with a greater awareness of their impact on others and employ a wider range of tactics for getting things done.
Type 9: Leading from Consensus, Modeling Inclusion, and Defusing Conflict—or the Consensus-Building Mediator
Summary: Leaders who have a Type Nine style tend to be attuned to supporting and accommodating others, often in subtle, unassuming ways. Nine leaders typically don’t like being the center of attention, preferring to “lead from behind,” through being likable, making sure work gets done in a way that benefits everyone. They may be practical and strong contributors, hard-working but modest facilitators, or highly relational, sensitive partners. But, whether they take a strong stand for what’s best for their people, work tirelessly to support others without looking for credit, or harmonize with others to support their aspirations, they combine genuine concern for the welfare of people with a willingness to sacrifice their own interests to further their teams, organizations, and communities.
Strengths: Type Nine leaders’ superpowers include good-natured support of the efforts of others, making sure everyone is heard and included, diplomatically mediating between contending viewpoints, and leading by consensus.
Weaknesses: While Type Nines are friendly, easy-going, and egalitarian, they sometimes don’t express their own opinion forcefully enough or act decisively when it’s time to move forward. They can focus so much on furthering the agendas of others, that they don’t formulate and communicate their own idea of what needs to happen. They can avoid conflict through wanting to maintain the comfort and harmony of consensus, and they may slow the momentum of projects through waiting until everyone is on board. Fortunately, Type Nines’ sincere interest in working harmoniously with others to get things done means they will likely be motivated to be more aware of how their desire for agreement and consensus can get taken too far. When they can focus on recognizing the limits of trying to please everyone and acknowledge that conflict can’t always be avoided—and can even be useful—they can usually more effectively leverage their strengths in a way that allows for both interpersonal comfort and a thriving enterprise.
Thanks Beatrice, for allowing me to share your wisdom with our readers. Be sure to read the full book, for more details.
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