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What Kind of Leader are You?

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

“The secret of being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal. The only thing that makes people and organizations great is their willingness to be not great along the way. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.” - Seth Godin, Author, Blogger, and Former Business Executive

You are a leader if someone is following you. This could be as simple as one person watching you and following your example and encouragement to be a leader in your home, community, workplace, or even nation. Leadership can take many forms, but it typically involves managing people- one of the most challenging tasks. It means coordinating and motivating the actions of others to achieve a common goal. A leader must set up that goal and gain the willing agreement of others to be governed by and work together towards that goal.

The style of leadership taken by any leader is usually predetermined by that person's personality and motivational values. They are who they are as a personality, which strongly influences how they lead and communicate with others.

The study of personality traits has been ongoing for centuries, and there is a great deal of agreement in the conclusions and findings of personality characteristics. In this article, I will refer to the diverse types of personality in color form, adopting the categories applied by Linda Berens and Don Lowry.

Every personality type has talents and skills that lend themselves to good leadership. Any form of leadership, however, is greatly enriched and enhanced if it can draw on the strengths and characteristics of the other styles.

A leader with a strong gold personality is personally committed and dedicated to the goal. They work hard and expect their team to do the same. They lead from a belief that the work is essential and must be done right. Gold leaders value tradition- the ways of the past are proven methods, so they do not take well to innovative ideas unless they are well-proven to have potential.

Leaders with solid blue personalities are motivated by their commitment to the people involved and a keen sense of community. Blue leaders tend to see the big picture and can inspire others with their vision. They have a democratic style of management, valuing the input of employees and team workers.

The solid green leadership style also sees the big picture and the complexity of detail. Green leaders excel in strategy. They bring intellect, ingenuity, and design into the leadership role. They research and analyze facts and concepts, constantly looking for improvements to work smarter rather than harder. Facts and information are all critical to the green leader, and they pay little attention to the value of feelings and relationships.

Action is the focus of the orange leader. Administration and organization exist to make action possible. They are great troubleshooters. The Orange leader leads by example, setting the standard to follow. Orange management style can be quite authoritarian and abrupt as they are impatient with opposition and expect their directions to be followed. Above all, orange leaders welcome change believing that the old ways can constantly be improved. A new project is an adventure, a challenge, and potential fun, all of which the orange personality thrives on.

A wise leader will understand the strengths and weaknesses of their leadership style and use those team members with assorted styles to bring balance and greater efficiency in meeting the shared goal. Every leader has a combination of all four personalities, but one will always be the more robust, more natural way to run. A leader’s style may also blend their main strength with their second most muscular style.

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