What kind of leader are you?

We may think of leadership as something that only applies to a small number of people but apparently we all have the ability within us. Elizabeth Heathcote explores the four leadership types and how to make them work together. Which one are you?


What kind of leader are you?

Businessman, coach and writer Les McKeown believes that we each have an innate leadership style and that the key to contributing our best selves lies in understanding this, and how our style fits alongside others. See which of the four types best matches you – and those around you below. Bear in mind that most people have a dominant type but also develop aspects of a secondary style.

1. The Visionary

  • Creative big thinkers full of ideas
  • Most comfortable working on long-term strategic issues
  • Embraces (and needs) change and risk
  • Often charismatic – builds a tight, loyal team
  • Alternates between bursts of energy and periods of recharge
  • Starter rather than finisher
  • Gets bored with details
  • Often founder-owners of companies
  • An extreme visionary – someone who has not learned to ameliorate their style – runs the risk of becoming an arsonist: constantly setting fires without achieving much.

McKeown says: ‘Visionaries are great at ideas but they get bored quickly. The best thing that a Visionary can do is align themselves with someone with more of a Processor mindset who can look after the detail for them. The best way to treat Visionaries is with benign neglect. Put their idea in a file, and wait to see if they mention it another two or three times. If they do, it may be important and you may need to act on it…’

2. The Operator

  • Gets things done, makes things happen
  • Hardworking, practical
  • Overcomes obstacles and improvises solutions
  • Likes clear directions. Does not like working in a vacuum.
  • Intensely task-focused
  • Prefers action to theory
  • Satisfaction comes from completing projects and fulfilling the vision of others
  • An extreme operator– someone who has not learned to ameliorate their style – becomes a maverick – someone who won’t play ball

McKeown says: ‘An Operator’s greatest strength is that they get stuff done. But they don’t like meetings. Probably the most effective individual in an organisation is an operator who has taught themselves Processor skills, like compliance – what I call an OP. That is a powerful combination.'

3. The Processor

  • Thrives on systems and processes
  • Risk-averse and sceptical
  • Likes data, eschews intuitive leaps of faith
  • Precise
  • Focuses on efficiency and consistency
  • Logical thinker
  • Likes to bring order to chaos
  • Does not like ambiguity
  • An extreme processor – someone who has not learned to ameliorate their style – becomes a bureaucrat – someone so consumed with systems and process they cannot deviate.

McKeown says: ‘Processors love bringing order to chaos. A Processor is the kind of person who will follow a recipe resolutely. The challenge the Processor has is that they tend not to be loyal to a company or a project, but to the process. What is important is to do it right. So sometimes for the Visionary and the Operator, it doesn’t feel like the Processor is a team player.'

4. The Synergist

  • People oriented
  • Focused on what is best for the organisation, rather than their preference
  • More detached perspective than the other types
  • Not usually an innate preference like the other types, but learned.
  • An extreme synergist – someone who has not learned to ameliorate their style – becomes a sleaze – someone who is so concerned with the well-being of people they come across as a little sleazy

McKeown says: ‘The Synergist is about who’s going to do it – the people. They know how to make people work well together and get the best out of a team. The challenge they face is that sometimes they can come off to the other three types – particularly the Operator – as someone who is just working their own agenda. They never seem to actually do anything. Just as the Visionary and the Processor tend to clash a lot because they are almost 180 degrees apart in their views, so the Operator and the Synergist tend to clash too.”

Do Lead by Les McKeown is published by The Do Book Co, £8.99 (ebook £4.99)

Go to doleadbook.com for a full online type-finder

More inspiration:

Read Karen Ruimy's Discovering your true self on LifeLabs

Enable referrer and click cookie to search for eefc48a8bf715c1b ad9bf81e74a9d264 [] 2.7.22