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5 GenY Leadership Styles — Which One Are You?

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Purebred or Hybrid Leader — Which style best fits your natural strengths and personality?

Like personalities, leadership styles are as a unique as the person exercising it. Introverted or extroverted, thoughtful or impulsive, reserved or emotional — all of us are a distinctive blend of characteristics or qualities that form are individual character.

Because of that, leadership is not a scientific formula of traits that we refine and strengthen in order to maximize our influence. I have found that there are five types of leadership that are influential, positive, and effective.

Some leadership styles are influential and yield baseline results, but aren’t positive for society. Some are positive and effective, but they don’t influence people to become better. All five leadership styles listed here generate positive growth in people while accomplishing a desired objective.
Try to identify your leadership styles. Which leadership style do you best find fits your personal characteristics and natural strengths?

1. Servant Leader. Servant leaders view themselves as stewards. The word “stewardship” is derived from the greek language, whose meaning is rooted in the idea of a house manager; someone responsible for financial matters, the care of the property, and daily operations. Today, the word carries the idea of to whom the value of something is entrusted.

A leader for others, to be a servant is to operate out of a sense of being deeply secure in your identity. The noticeable kindness of the leader and the leadership shall not be viewed as weakness. A protector of the group, servant leaders are careful not to promote themselves. They are always ready to recognize their team before themselves.

Key Attributes: Humble, Selfless

2.*Intellectual Leader.  Aimed at promoting critical examination of values and beliefs, the intellectual leader relies on analytical reasoning to enhance follower achievement and organizational growth. Encouraging innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit from followers towards solving problems is necessary to constantly push and rejuvenate the organization.

Fostering an environment that values radical, still debatable, thinking without fear of backlash is a hallmark of the intellectual leader.

Key Attributes: Analytical, Forward-thinking

3. *Idealized Leader. The art of influencing followers perceptions of the leader as powerful, confident, and capable of accomplishing any goal. Idealized leadership is commonly referred to as leading by example.

Setting the standard for all to follow, the idealized leader is self-aware of their attitude towards ethical conduct, appearance, and non-verbal communication. The idealized leader is focused on mission first, but people always and allows this standard to transcend the organization. Focused more on action, they generates growth at all levels by being a quintessential example of effective authority. Simply put, people want to be like them.

Key Attributes: Confident, Self-Aware

4. *Inspirational Leader. Leadership behaviors aimed at energizing and motivating followers by communicating a vision and making an emotional appeal that invigorates followers to achieve goals. Serial optimists, the inspirational leader rallies followers towards a unified mission and purpose.

The clear articulation of the organizational vision is crucial for an inspirational leader. More often enthusiastic and extroverted, inspirational leadership relies on building an authentic sense of camaraderie between all levels of the organization.

Evoking and uncovering individual purpose to align with the organizational vision is the key to promoting growth on a micro and macro scale.

Key Attributes: Charismatic, Optimistic

5. Democratic Leadership. While all leadership methods require building leaders at all levels, a democratic leadership style is one that relies heavily on the leader-leader model. Beyond empowering, the democratic leader liberates the team and divests decision-making to lower positions of authority to promote positive growth.

Trusting yourself to give control, not take it away is a staple of democratic leadership.

Key Attributes: Trustworthy, Self-control


I find myself to naturally gravitate towards inspirational leadership with hints of idealized leadership. What style do you most resemble? Are you a combination of multiple styles? Continue the conversation in the comments.

* Part of the “transformational leadership” style, I argue that these factors are too all-encompassing. In my experience, I feel it’s appropriate to break it down more specifically. This allows for more concentration on the core personality traits and human tendencies associated with an intellectual, idealized, and inspirational leader. I agree that if you can accomplish all three styles, it is, indeed, transformational. Originally characterized in Lievens, Filip; Van Geit, Pascal; & Coetsier, Pol. Identification of Transformational Leadership Qualities: An Examination of Potential Biases. University of Ghent, Belgium.

About the author, Tim

US Navy Surface Warfare Officer.
Lacrosse Player.

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