The 5 Types of Leaders

Most managers think they’re good leaders. After all, people don’t want to be bad at something, and if they think they are, they’ll generally work to improve or stop trying altogether.

But let’s be honest: while some of those people who think they’re good leaders are right, many are wrong. And truly great leaders are even a rarer breed.

Do you aspire to be a great leader? Let’s start by figuring out what kind of leader you are today.

5 Types of Leaders

The “Self-Made” Leader

Simply put, the self-made leader doesn’t feel they needed any help to get where they are today, and they don’t see why anyone else would. They believe each person is master of their own fate and is responsible for their own professional and personal development.

This “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mindset likely stems from their own success in both an individual contributor role and later a managerial one. However, this type of leader generally tops out sooner than anticipated because they fail to embrace the concept of intentional development with their people.

The “Perk-and-Pray” Leader

This leader thinks development is important but doesn’t see it as a function of everyday operations. They consider their development obligations fulfilled by writing a check for the current hot-topic seminar or workshop.

They believe they’re doing the employee a favor and hope it makes them happy, but it isn’t really a necessity. They typically fail to follow up with the individuals they’re leading to determine how what they learned can be implemented to improve their career and life, and instead allow the experience to languish without ever making a real, lasting impact.

The “Mentor” Leader

This leader has done it all and is happy to share how they did it so the team can learn from them. They can speak to the individual roles and tasks of their team because they reached their current role by moving up through them successfully.

This leader believes the team’s success is about his or her personal performance and knowledge of those roles rather than the ability to help people learn to solve problems for themselves. The “mentor” leader is respected for their experience, and people are generally content to work for them as they will achieve some level of success by virtue of “drafting” on the leader’s experience.

However, the team will inevitably become manager-centric and performance will decrease when that manager is unavailable or moves on.

The “Outsourcing” Leader

This leader chooses to look to outside experts for training rather than developing the team themselves. In this case, the leader recognizes the importance of investing in training but feels their efforts are better focused elsewhere.

Rather than stretching themselves too thin or outside their comfort zone, they work with industry experts for help with addressing key skill sets. They focus their time on tasks which only they can do while having their team learn from specific experts on various topics.

This approach has some benefits as it allows the leader to produce results, but it ultimately limits the connection between the leader and the team.

The Coaching Leader

This leader sees developing people to grow both personally and professionally as their primary purpose and responsibility. They strive to build a “coaching culture” where everyone is engaged and participating in the process.

The coaching leader creates and follows a proactive coaching plan for their team and implements it in their downline. This leader spends a great deal of their workweek coaching others to improved performance and effectiveness, and the team recognizes it.

People clamor to be a part of this leader’s team, further cementing their value to the organization. This leader is generally successful and fulfilled professionally and personally.

The Best Kind of Leader

While various levels of success are possible for each of those types, the majority of truly exceptional leaders are coaching leaders.

So, if you aspire to improve your leadership capabilities, set your sights on that style of leadership. Our “Guide to Coaching Leadership” will help you get started.

If you’d like to learn more about coaching leadership, send us an email at and we’ll be in touch with more information. 


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