Three Leadership Styles: Which one are you?

Quick: can you describe your leadership style? Your leadership style matters. There are three leadership styles that I’ll explore, but first you have to ask yourself: Why does leadership style matter?

It’s simple. Nothing impacts the wealth, health and happiness of others more than leaders. Also, people look a lot like their leaders. In other words, the you’ll see your leadership style in the people in your organization.

So, how does your leadership style rate? Which of the three leadership styles are you?

I’ve found there is one style of leader that can increase the wealth, health and happiness of others exponentially.

I’ve spent over 20 years obsessing about leadership: observing, learning and teaching every day. Everywhere I turn, “experts” struggle to make leadership tangible and actionable. That’s because leadership is inherently intangible.

Here is the most powerful, tangible and actionable way to think about leadership.

I have seen this concept transform thousands of leaders and their ability to lead. Boiled down to the core, there are only three styles of leaders in this world. Here’s how to discover your leadership style. Don’t let the simplicity get in the way of the power. It’s simple but deep.

What is your leadership style? Three leadership styles
The three leadership styles. What’s your leadership style?

There are three different leadership styles:


To discover your leadership style, you have to ask yourself three simple questions:

  1. Think about the leaders in your life. Which type of leader were they and how did you feel under their leadership?
  2. Which type of leader do you want to be and what do you have to do to get there?
  3. How would the people in your life or team describe your leadership type?

While it may seem overly simplified, it is true. All leaders fit into one of these three leadership types. Here’s a quick overview to help you answer the questions above.

For You Leadership Style

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 said they care about you and others. These leaders in your life were, most likely, For You Leaders.

If one of these leaders was to ask you a favor, you would drop what you are doing. I’m sure you can picture at least one of these 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. They have to let people go – but they do it because they could be a better fit somewhere else.

Other signs of a For You Leader:

  • They are obsessed with employee development. They believe, if you don’t grow, you go.
  • You always know where you stand with this leader. They have regular check-ins, set expectations and measure back to expectations and goals.
  • Even if you don’t work directly under this leader, they have taken an interest in you.
  • They expect a lot from you – but more from themselves.
  • They aren’t afraid of having difficult conversations, but in the interest of what is best for you.
  • They care about you – the person. Not just you – the employee. They probably know about your family and personal life.
  • They are patient and take the time to explain the “why” behind instructions.

Against You Leadership Style

These type of leaders are rare. Rarely is someone actively against you. In reality, they are probably more For Themselves.

The only reason we include these leaders is, by definition, there have been historical, influential leaders that were Against You Leaders. We put Hitler and others in this category.

For Myself Leadership Style

This is the most common form of leaders. These leaders are selfish. They make decisions through the lens of “what’s in it for me?” Even though they have mastered the art of making you think they are For You.

Think about the leaders in your life that showed you precisely the leader you did not want to become. They were a For Myself Leader.

Other signs of For Myself Leaders:

  • They are allergic to accountability for anything that goes wrong. They are quick to point the finger.
  • However, when a project is a success, they are the first to take credit.
  • They frequently talk about themselves and their accomplishments.
  • They rarely ask questions about you and where you are at.
  • They never ask you how they can help you.
  • You never know where you stand with this leader. Sometimes you are on their good side, but the next second you are on their bad side.
  • If you can’t do anything for them, immediately, they have no interest in you.
  • You can never get a firm answer from this leader – they are non-committal.
  • You feel this person is constantly being “political” – not doing what is best for the company, but acting only in their best interest.

It doesn’t take long for this mindset to take over a company. We’ve discovered that companies look like their leaders. If the leader at the top is a For Myself Leader, you’ll find more For Myself leadership throughout the company.

What’s your leadership style?


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