What type of leader am I?

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he/she wants to do it” – Dwight D. Eisenhower. This is one of my favourite quotes and it’s certainly true that when leading a team, you need to get them to work for and with you: they need to feel motivated.

Leadership is a word that gets thrown around quite a lot, but do we really know what leadership is? And do we know how to become the kind of leader people want to follow? I have managed many teams over the years and usually my style of leadership is that of a coach leader. I believe in people’s ability to achieve their dreams and want to inspire them.

However, there was one particular team, possibly the most difficult one I have encountered, that made me realise that there is no one-size-fit-all approach when it comes to leadership. In this spa, I wasn’t able to adopt coach leadership straight away; I had to change my style in order to manage the team.

During, this process I learned, among other things, that there are six main types of leaders:

The directive leader: “Do what I tell you”

Directive leaders scare their teams, pushing them to set targets no matter what. They get results when they need to but this bullying style of leadership can damage the atmosphere in the business, and sometimes its productivity. Directive leaders can’t afford to show weakness or vulnerability, which means this way of leading can be quite isolating.

The chief leader: “Do it now”

The main asset of the chief leader is their quest for excellence. The Chief leader is Impressive and commands respect by ensuring everyone knows where they stand and what is expected of them. This leader’s “do it now” attitude gets results, however, this type of leadership fails to listen to individuals which makes them often feel they are not valued. If this style of leadership is applied for too long, there is a danger of high turnover of staff as not everyone wants to follow them.

The visionary leader: “Come build the dream with me”

The visionary leader is inspiring and builds a positive atmosphere. They create an environment in which people are motivated and that produces inspiring stories.
Visionary leaders are effective, and everyone wants to work with them. Think someone like Bill Gates. The danger with a visionary leader is that they’re not always strong when it comes to the operational side of the business, and details relating to the day-to-day running of it can get overlooked.

The collaborative leader: “Together we are stronger”

The objective of the collaborative leader is to make the different members of the team work closely together. They are effective at appeasing conflicts, usually hold regular meetings and like to get everyone involved. This style of leadership tends to be perceived as emphatic, understanding and inspirational. Collaborative leaders are very good at pinpointing the difficult staff member that doesn’t want to get involved, however, as a leader, they might spend too much time with listening and not acting upon matters that need attention. This leader is not the one to achieve fast results.

The Participative leader: “What do you think?”

The participative leader is very positive for the team as they make each individual feel valued in their role, gathering ideas and encouraging commitment from the team. A participative leader is, however, not very quick at making decisions and is seen as a bit of a soft touch. This style of leadership is, therefore, not great in times of crisis as it doesn’t get quick results. Even on a day-to-day basis, this leader needs to know how to cut things short, including exchanges they may have initiated themselves. They need to be able to say: "OK, I heard you, now I'm going to make the decision. "

The Coach leader: “Try this”

This is a leader who believes and invests in you. The coach leader’s objective is to make sure there is synergy between your goals and those of the company. They seek to highlight your talents and encourage self-improvement. This leader is ideal for ambitious team members, but a lack of talent, disengagement, failure to take responsibility and stagnation displeases them. Coach leaders have high emotional intelligence, which makes them good at helping others develop, being aware of their team members’ emotions and showing empathy.  The coach style is, however, not effective for quick results, nor for getting the team to achieve something quickly. 


To be a successful leader that people want to work with, you need to be able to adapt, using these different styles of leadership at different points. The directive and chief leaders are, for example, not the kind of leaders that teams stay with in the long run but it can be necessary to lead in these ways from time to time.

In my case, I realised that these 2 types of leadership were necessary to restore order in this particular spa. Within 3 months, not only the results showed them that I could achieve what I set out to do but it made them listen. I then adopted the collaborative and participative leadership to ensure we worked as a team, and thrived on individual development. The team and individual performance became the heart of my mission and made them work at their full potential because they wanted to, which is where I realised the quote mentioned was true. The visionary and coach leadership lead the team to success as it made them focussed and created an amazing atmosphere that we all craved.

A leader is able to wear all these six hats, guiding the team towards the desired results for them and the business. The key to successful leadership is crystal clear vision and strong communication: the clearer the vision, the clearer and more achievable the dream.


Valerie Delforge - Founder and CEO of Delforge + Co

Judge, Key Note Speaker, Commercial Trainer & Coach for the Spa & Beauty Industry

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