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The 4 Types of Leadership

Source | | Carsten Lund Pedersen | Thomas Ritter

Most employees have encountered both great and bad leaders over the course of their careers, and they can therefore easily recognize the characteristics of both. However, surprisingly few leaders pay attention to their own leadership style, which can result in lost opportunities to critically reflect on the benefits and disadvantages of their approaches to communicationmanagement, and leadership.

Based on countless interactions with executives over the years, we have developed a matrix of different types of leadership that managers can use to better understand themselves (see the figure below). The matrix has two dimensions, which are based on two questions. First, do you predominantly manage by posing questions to your employees? Second, do you predominantly manage by providing answers to your employees?

The matrix points to four different kinds of leadership: silent leaders, questioning leaders, answering leaders, and conversational leaders. It is important that leaders identify their own type and critically reflect upon its implications. In the following, we explain and exemplify each of the leadership types with real-world cases.

The Four Types of Leaders

Each of the four types of leaders identified in the matrix has its own distinctive strengths and weaknesses. As shown in the figure below, the four types of leaders have “evil twins”—negative traits that employees may use to label their leaders.

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