Personality Types and Leadership Styles

Darrell’s avatar

There isn't much debate about the idea that leadership style grows out of personality type. Just as the unique gifts associated with each personality type contribute to society, they also contribute to the many different types of leadership needed to keep the world moving forward.

So, let's take a moment to look at the different groups, what they are likely to offer by way of leadership skills and a few famous, archetypal examples for each.

The Analyst Leader: The logical Analyst leader will create and adapt systems with an improved organization or product in mind. Rationality is the guiding principle with such leaders. They tend toward a "matter-of-fact" approach and will have little patience for anything too sentimental or not firmly rooted in logic. As leaders, they often value inventiveness.

While some argue Steve Jobs was an example of an Explorer personality type, one could argue that his chief interest was in "building a better mousetrap" - a very Analyst trait. Under his leadership, he not only brought new and exciting products to the marketplace, but Apple continuously tinkered with those products to make them better.

Analyst leaders often work in government agencies and in political offices. Franklin D. Roosevelt is a prime example as he created programs, such as Social Security system and the WPA, to help end the Great Depression. In a sense, FDR tinkered with the system that was United States to make a system that worked better for its citizens.

The Diplomat Leader: The visionary Diplomat leader will involve themselves with ideas and imaginings often linked to higher causes and values. While they may be active in their organizations, they will shine more for their ability to inspire and to share a larger vision. They look toward what the future can bring rather than the offerings of the past and present.

Social change leaders like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela are obvious examples of Diplomat leaders. In business and entertainment, one of the influential Diplomat leaders in the recent history was Walt Disney. He brought us new experiences through entertainment and amusement parks that he not only intended to be fun, but they carried a moral message as well. Even long after his death, they call Disney's development department "Walt Disney Imagineering" and their employment website challenges potential candidates to "Create the Never-Before-Seen".

The Sentinel Leader: The responsible Sentinel leader will take care of business as an administrator who gets all the details right and handle things in a meticulous way. They are likely to honor the past and be strict about rules and protocols. These personality types work from a sense of responsibility for taking care of the greater good. Sentinels see their leadership role as protecting and preserving society, some slice of it or an established tradition.

Pope Francis is a good example of a Sentinel leader. In fact, by definition, most popes probably fit this bill as the chief pastor of the Catholic faith. Their job is to care for their flock by applying the principles of their church.

Biographers say Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, leads with an eye constantly on the data and is not above getting his hands dirty over every detail of the enterprise. Because of this focus, many consider him a Sentinel.

The Explorer Leader: The agile Explorer leader is most likely to find quick solutions to any problems that arise and to take an organization in a new and exciting direction. They don't mind taking risks when they feel there's a decent chance the risks might pay off. They don't care about how others have done things in the past - only what the next big thing is. They are leaders oriented toward acting rather than planning and analyzing.

Richard Branson is an Explorer leader who started by creating Virgin Record Megastores which paved the way for creating over 400 companies under the Virgin banner. Virgin's current obsession is private space tourism for which the company is now testing spacecraft and has booked many celebrities. His zeal for the new and the exciting is clear throughout Virgin's history.

Have you ever had any kind of leadership position? Did you see your personality type in your leadership style?