4 Types of New Leaders

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When a high achieving individual contributor takes the leap into a leadership or management role, there are lots of things to consider to help make the transition smooth. My first step into a leadership role involved transitioning from working as a clinical psychologist to managing a team of 17. Whoa. Big shift. I had no idea the best way to motivate a multi-disciplinary team that was a mix of contractors, government employees, and volunteers.

My tendency throughout my academic and professional career was to take on a TON of responsibility - extra classes, extra opportunities, anything that sounded interesting, I signed up to do. I loved being busy and thrived with a lot of responsibilities. The dark side of that, however, is the tendency to take on more than your share in groups. Were you also the person in group projects who did the majority of the work? Yep, me too.

So, I did all of the extra things in my new role. I managed all of my responsibilities, juggled the tasks of others , took on added responsibilities in the form of extra projects. I was REALLY committed to the mission, and, quite honestly, I was used to success. I wanted to continue to achieve. But, I doubted myself - hard. I wasn’t sure I had the skill set to lead and motivate. I was starting to feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

There seems to be two domains that play a role in the identity of the new leaders.

  1. Vision/strategy

  2. Honoring people

There is a pattern that I’ve noticed when new leaders step into their new role…

4 Types of New Leaders

  1. The Do-It-All Leader:

    This is the type of leader that takes on everything themselves. This is commonly the leader who recently transitioned from a subject matter expert role or high performing individual contributor. They are used to being busy and think they can handle more than they can. Sound familiar from my description above? This was me.

    This type of leader generally has low vision/strategy and is low on honoring the people spectrum. It’s not that the person doesn’t have a vision but they are caught up in the day to day tasks and chaos. This type of leader is constantly putting our fires throughout the day, so it’s challenging to get some perspective and to really craft a vision and strategy to achieve it.

    This type of leader is on a quick path to burnout and often feels overwhelmed - even irritable. This leader is likely walking toward exhaustion. This is not a sustainable way to lead.

  2. The Relationship Builder:

    This is the highly empathic and “feelings-forward” leader. This leader focuses on building strong relationships with team members, learning about the team, and is invested in the team dynamics. This leader tends to be a bit of a conflict avoider and doesn’t have a clear strategy or vision for the team.

    This type of leader is often low on the vision/strategy category but high on the domain of honoring people. The staff often feel very appreciated and heard but they may not trust their leader to guide them in a consistent direction. This may cause the team to act independently to seek their own agenda. This leader is very caring, empathic, wants to be liked by the team, but may feel unfocused and unclear on how to move the team toward a goal.

  3. The Bulldog:

    This is the passionate, hard-charging type of leader. This is the leader with a strong vision and strong commitment to achieving the vision. This is also the type of leader that believes in transforming everyone against their will and may be seen as aggressive, passionate, and demanding. The bulldog leader is high on the vision/strategy domain but is low on the honoring the people dimension.

    This type of leader may be confused as to why the team isn’t able to immediately get on board with his/her ideas and begin executing the plan without question. This leader is viewed as overbearing, micromanaging, and an authoritarian style. This type of leader highly values conformity and compliance and doesn’t appreciate questions or critical thinking that might not align with their goals.

  4. The Balanced Leader:

    This type of leader has a balanced approach to their new role. They know how to get things done, they know who to go to in their institution to achieve their mission, they move people in a consistent direction, and they are willing to make iterative changes with their new team. This leader has a holistic approach to leadership and is generally talking good care of themselves. They are perceived as approachable, unflappable, and a strong leader. They believe in taking care of themselves. This leader is high on the honoring relationships dimension and high in the vision/strategy dimension. This leader is able to hold a strong vision while bringing people into the fold.

    This type of leader may still have some tendency to take on too many responsibilities, and this leader might have difficulty disconnecting from what’s going on work during their personal life. They still may struggle to identify as a leader or to fully step into their identify as a leader.

Which type of leader are you?

"I didn't think I was a relationship builder until we talked! I was sure I was the bulldog. But when you really explained it, it made total sense. Now my strategies will actually get to the root cause. Blew my mind!" - Amanda, entrepreneur, leader of a team of 4

I’m offering a limited number of leadership style success consultation calls. During the free call, we’ll discuss with you what type of leader you are and how to address any weak spots! Following our conversation, I’ll provide you with a tailored success plan based on your leadership type.

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