How intentional are you as a leader?
It’s an odd question, but think about it.

A vast majority of leaders spend their entire day choosing which fires to put out and which fires to let burn. But when’s the last time you set aside time to think about how you are showing up as a leader? When’s the last time you invested in yourself? Or the last time you were intentional about your growth as a leader?

If you’re being intentional as a leader, it will show up in the way everyone views you as a leader.

How are you showing up as a leader?

There are three primary ways any leader shows up. You may not realize it, but your family, employees, and friends could quickly place you in one of the three types. They could place you in a matter of seconds.

If they can put you in one of the three leadership categories, you should be able to place yourself. After you read the three leader types, take a moment to pause and reflect on your leadership style. We’ll dive into each style next.

The three types of leaders:
Leaders that are For You.
Leaders that are Against You.
Leaders that are For Themselves.

For Themselves Leaders
This is the most common form of leaders, unfortunately. These leaders are selfish. They make decisions through the lens of “what’s in it for me?” However, with all the training and content about how to be a “great” leader, a For Themselves Leader can disguise they care about you and others.

The facade quickly crumbles when they are under pressure. You’ll then start to see their real agenda and real leadership style.

Think about the leaders in your life that showed you precisely the leader you didn't want to become. They were probably a For Themselves Leader.

A For Themselves Leader is always looking to see what they can get out of you instead of what they can pour into you. They’ve clawed, gouged, and put themselves before anyone else to get where they want to go. They easily justify their behavior.

Don’t make any mistake: These leaders still get results. But they leave a wake of destruction, mostly people, in their path.

Against You Leaders
These types of leaders are rare, but they are out there. For whatever reason, they are against you. Maybe you remind them of someone that hurt them from their childhood. Perhaps you threaten their thinly veiled existence as a leader and are afraid they will lose status or be exposed–or both.

These leaders wake up every day and obsess about how to make your life (or a group of people’s lives) miserable. They are intentional, cruel, and extremely capable at managing the relationships they need to have in their corner to maintain their status and position. Against You Leaders typically get short term results with massive long-term risk and damage.

Hitler and other ruthless dictators easily fall in this category.

For You Leaders
For You Leaders are, as the name implies, for you. They see something in you that you may not see in yourself. They are committed to helping you reach your full potential. They are not against you. They are not for themselves.

Think about the leaders who have made the biggest positive impact in your life. They inspired you. They helped you through difficult transitions. They expected a lot from you – but not more than they expected from themselves. Their actions, behaviors, and outlook on life say they genuinely care about you (and others). These leaders in your life were For You Leaders.

That doesn’t mean For You Leaders are decaffeinated, weak, or submissive. They still have to make the tough decisions, but they do it with the right heart. For You Leaders still to let people go – but they do it because an employee could be a better fit somewhere else.

It’s not a surprise that the most successful and happy leaders are For You Leaders. Just as gratitude leads to success, For You Leaders naturally lead to success.

The difference is a For You Leader’s ability to be intentional and practice gratitude. You won’t see the best in someone unless you are deliberately looking for it.

Differences between For You Leaders and For Themselves Leaders

For You

Serve with Love. 
For You Leaders have the confidence to serve with love. They have earned your trust. They intentionally help take you where you could not take yourself.

Puts others’ agendas first.
This doesn’t mean a For You Leader doesn’t have their own agenda, but they put the agenda of others before their own.

Care more about what they can put in than what they can get out.
For You Leaders view the time they spend with people as an investment.
The best investments are made over time and produce dividends over and over and over.

Want to know 3 things about you:
1. Who are you?
2. Where are you at in your journey?
3. How can they help you take the next step?

For Themselves Leaders...

Serve with Fear. 
For Themselves Leaders serve with a fear that there isn’t enough to go around. Fear they won’t get what they deserve. Fear someone else will get what should be theirs.

Put their agenda first.
They have an agenda, usually exposed under pressure. For Themselves Leaders may not put their agenda out there, but they have an agenda they are working toward.

Care more about what they can get out than what they can put in.
People are the means to an end. For Themselves Leaders view people as an opportunity cost, not an investment.

Want you to know 1 thing about you:
1. Do you have the aptitude and attitude to help them get the results they are trying to achieve?

Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be. You might think, “Well, I’m a For You Leader most of the time, but when I’m doing X or Y, I may be a little more For Myself.” That’s true.

How would your team or family describe you, when you are not in the room? That’s the kind of leader you are.

Remember: Leadership is having the influence to take someone where they can't take themselves. Your exact influence will be tied directly to the depth of your care and gratitude for others.

What kind of leader are you?