“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” ~ John Quincy Adams
Ever since mankind has dreamt of achieving something, a procession of individuals has marched towards achieving it. For every procession, journey and path, the individuals seek a forerunner, one holding the night lamp and showing the way; as John C Maxwell said “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”.
What makes a leader good, bad, excellent, great? The most obvious answer would be his ability to lead the procession of individuals to the desired destination. There have been numerous leaders in the history who have led their men to the desired goal, but the means have not been the same. Leaders are of different types and follow a certain pattern of leadership that makes them successful and that sets them apart from the rest.
Depending on whether you are running a company, leading a group, heading an institution or governing a nation, your leadership approach will be different. Leading is a complex task and a leader combines a number of techniques and strategies to lead the followers. Many different researches have come to different conclusions regarding the characteristics that make a leader. Based on what is prevalent in the world, the characteristics have been compartmentalized into various types of leadership. There are democratic, autocratic, bureaucratic, charismatic and laissez-faire forms or styles of leadership, among others. These styles of leadership coupled with the individual characteristics make the leader unique and effective.
There are five main ingredients that go into making a leader:
- Determination and perseverance
- Ability to challenge the norms and bring change
- Ability to lead the followers by command
These ingredients in different combinations decide what type of a leader you are. There are seven types of leaders:
Talk of the Donald. Donald Trump is a well-known billionaire who likes to fire people. Trump is a commander; he believes in taking calculated risks. He is determined, is innovative and is capable of leading his followers by word. His great demeanor has allowed him to consider running for the position of the president of the United States. His only drawback is his inability to take big risks and his rigid belief in the conventional business practices. As Trump said, “part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive.”
This leader makes a deal that you can’t refuse. This type of a leader is good at two things: taking unprecedented risks that pay off and challenging the convention and going for the unorthodox. Think of Larry Page and Sergey Brin. These men, the co-founders of Google, have taken risk after risk in their quest for domination in the cyber world. They have made several deals that would have seemed foolish in the beginning, but their foresight and gut feeling revolutionized the way we use the Internet today.
Bill Gates, the cofounder and chairman of Microsoft, the world leader in software development, is a controller. This type of leader is a strategic executor with clear and concise goals and the required perseverance to follow that goal. These leaders like to run a one-man show and not let any obstacle hinder them. They like detailed and strategic plans for every objective to be met and monitor every single activity in their follower group. They like to keep a tight control over resources and people and keep expanding. Risk is a component of the daily meal and resolve is inherent in everyday activities. This plan of action has resulted in Microsoft employing more than 50,000 people in more than 80 countries.
This type of leader is good at leading the masses and developing a strong follower base. Come in Rupert Murdoch. They have almost all qualities of a good leader but fail to follow through on the set goals and objectives. They are motivational, innovative and determined but not persuasive enough for transforming individual followers into a profit generating cohesive unit. Murdoch, the major shareholder and managing director of News Corporation, managed to build a media empire that is counted in the top three in the world. Surprisingly, even after an advance start, News Corporation did not manage to take the lead.
The Persistent Capitalist
This type of a leader is innovative and imaginative but takes calculated risks. He makes the impossible seem possible, thereby, creating a great fan-base among his followers. He is determined and perseverant and constantly challenges that norm. He is interested in leaving a legacy behind him but fails to lead his followers by his word. Li Ka-shing, the richest businessman of Asia, heads a business that covers 40 countries and sums up to more than 11% of Hong Kong’s stock market value. Despite being the 19th richest man in the world, Li keeps a low profile and is not famous like his counterparts.
The Spin Doctor
This category of leaders has Richard Branson written all over it. This type of leader has all the qualities of a good leader but demonstrates an inconsistent behavior and lack of conviction. These leaders can debate regarding any possible action and case and justify every single action and change to the followers. He can lead with a smile and with style. From breaking world records to making news, this type of a leader has too many distractions to stay focused on a single goal.
We are talking Steve Jobs. One who has it all; one who can take a company on its way out and make it the global leader in its particular niche. The revolutionary leader is the master of innovation, a risk player, full of determination and perseverance. His ability to challenge the normal and orthodox plan of action sets him apart and his ability to lead the followers by precise and concise command makes him great.
Steve Jobs was ousted in 1985 from his own company, courtesy a boardroom battle. He went on and bought Pixar and then joined Apple again 11 years later when it was almost over taken by all rival companies. He led a revolutionary transformation, one of the biggest and most outstanding in the history of business, and transformed a rickety institution into the most valuable company in the world (for a brief period). Starting with the classy iMacs to the iPhone, Jobs had it covered in every sphere. Apple continues to dominate the tech-market and might continue to do so due to the legacy of brilliance, innovation and leadership left behind by Steve Jobs.
You can be one of these kinds of leaders or you can be leading in a novel way, but at the end of the day, what matters are results. As Peter Drucker once said, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”
Patrick Alain is the founder of the business communication warehouse LeaderPhrase.com, which is one of the top business, communication, and Leadership strategy source worldwide. Patrick Alain is internationally known for his contribution on some of the best-selling video games around the world.