The Five Styles of Leadership: The Best Leaders Change Styles in Season

leadershipstylesPsychTests today published a summary of its findings on the five leadership styles based on analysis of 7, 170 leaders. These in many respects align with the motivational categories of Relationship Awareness as tested on the SDI Inventory from Personal Strengths Publishing (I am certified in case you are interested). PsychTests found in its analysis that the excellent leaders, based on its survey of over 30,000 leaders, exemplified an ability to draw from all of these leadership styles, even when one style may be dominant based on personality or motivational style. In other words, as many other studies have found, there is not one leadership style or trait that effective leaders have, but rather an ability to draw from all of the styles as the situation requires.

The five leadership styles according to PsychTests are:


(32% of the sample of excellent leaders; 16% of the sample of poor to average leaders)

“People who fell into the Eclectic category possess a combination of all the leadership styles,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company. “This is the style of 1/3 of the excellent leaders, and likely the reason why they are considered ‘excellent’. Their repertoire of leadership skills is all-encompassing. They are social chameleons, and can draw from and use all the different leadership styles, depending on the situation or the people they are leading.”

(28% of excellent leaders; 43% of poor to average leaders)

Leadership strengths:

  •     Develop their staff to become self-sufficient, confident, and independent.
  •     Practice “tough love.”
  •     Continuously set goals and inspire others to achieve.
  •     Have an energetic yet firm demeanor that commands respects.
  •     Give credit when it’s due and will compensate hard work and dedication.

Leadership limitations:

  •     Will not delegate responsibilities – they draw a line between leader and follower.
  •     Will not endear themselves to others. These are no-nonsense leaders who are outgoing but will keep their relationship with their staff strictly professional…they will not become anyone’s friend.
  •     Can be short-tempered and might be difficult to get along with sometimes.
  •     Don’t possess a great deal of long-term vision – focused on accomplishing short-term goals.


(22% of the sample of excellent leaders; 17% of the sample of poor to average leaders)

Leadership strengths:

  •      Hands-on leaders who will roll up their sleeves and work just as hard as the next person. They encompass the true value of hard work.
  •     Know exactly what they want to achieve and how to get there. Very ambitious and goal oriented, with a clear, long-term vision.
  •     Very determined and perseverant – once they set their sight on an objective, they will not stop until they attain it.
  •     Firm leadership style – slackers will be set straight immediately.
  •     Have a great deal of respect for people who are willing to work hard.

Leadership limitations:

  •     Will not delegate their leadership responsibilities – which can often mean they will work longer hours to get things done, because they don’t trust anyone else to get their part of the job done well.
  •     Don’t mince words or use flowery language to inspire others. They dictate orders and expect them to be done without question.
  •     Are not skilled in developing people. Would work better with an established, experienced staff.
  •     Can be “rough around the edges.” Not the type of leader to be trifled with, as they are not likely to give too many second chances.


(17% of the sample of excellent leaders; 23% of the sample of poor to average leaders)

Leadership strengths:

  •     Strive to bring out the best in those they lead, and willing to spend the necessary time and effort to do so.
  •     Will progressively delegate tasks that involve more and more responsibility, in order to empower employees and increase their confidence and independence.
  •     Will not give up on troublesome or difficult employees; they believe that everyone deserves help and a second chance. And third. And fourth…
  •     Believe that people are the most important resource a company has.

Leadership limitations:

  •     Would rather work as a leader “behind the scenes.” They are not comfortable directing a large group, and prefer to work                 with people one-on-one.
  •     Not a very outgoing or charismatic leader.
  •     Would not thrive in management of production and operations. They are people-oriented, not product drivers.
  •     Don’t possess a long-term vision; they focus on the day-to-day functioning of their staff.


(1% of the sample of excellent leaders; 1% of the sample of poor to average leaders)

Leadership strengths:

  •     Big-picture leaders who are master networkers.
  •     Good at schmoozing and drawing in customers.
  •     Possess a dynamic and charming personality.

Leadership limitations:

  •     More of a figurehead than leader. They are not very involved with their staff and prefer to simply pass orders down the chain of command.
  •     Not very hardworking, at least not in a practical sense. They delegate the more nitty-gritty tasks to others.
  •     Understand the importance of nurturing and motivating staff…but will leave that duty to someone else.

While the Eclectic approach seemed to be prominent among excellent leaders, poor to average leaders tended to fall in one of two extremes. According to PsychTests’ research, they either focused too much on the performance/production side of leadership (Sports Coach style), or they focused too much on the people side of leadership (Mentor style) – to the detriment of both.

‘The underperforming leaders tend to have an unbalanced style, which is likely why their performance as a leader was not rated well,” concludes Dr. Jerabek. “Nowadays, leaders need to wear many hats. They need to be able to develop both the human side and product side of a business – if you have just one or the other, you greatly limit yourself and the success of your business. The days of barking out orders and running staff like an assembly line or, on the contrary, spending the day on the golf course while your assistants run the company are becoming obsolete.'”

Adapted from PsychTests Summary Release.

PsychTests’ Leadership Style Test can be found at


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