Leaders can be categorised in a number of ways, but according to the Harvard Business Review, there are seven main action logics. As a leader’s ability grows, whether through personal development or leadership training, they may be able to advance through the categories, improving productivity and overall performance.
Here, ranked from least effective to most effective, are the seven leadership types.
This type of leader is characterised as self-centred, manipulative and egocentric, focusing on personal victories at the expense of others. The speculator is typically an opportunist who will break rules, exploit situations and justify their own behaviour, while rejecting criticism. They are willing to take great risks, but produce poor corporate performance. As a result, unless they undergo sufficient leadership development to change their ways, their reigns are usually short-lived.
Polite, cooperative and keen to avoid conflict, ambassadors help to bring people together and ensure all ideas are heard, making them ideal for supportive roles. However, they often struggle after ascending to leadership positions, as they ignore problems, shy away from making tough decisions and fail to initiate necessary changes. For this reason, they can be summed up as well-intentioned but self-destructive.
The most common leadership type, specialists attempt to rule through pure logic and rely heavily on acquired knowledge. They strive for continued improvement and often take a data-driven approach to solving problems, dismissing emotional intelligence. Although they cope better than opportunists, their main leadership failing is their belief that they know best, meaning they refuse to listen to subordinates and view collaboration with scepticism.
A highflier is goal-orientated and has a more complex view of the world than an expert, understanding that feedback and delegation are essential. Most highfliers try to influence others in positive ways and try to create a pleasant workplace atmosphere, which supports and challenges employees, leading to strong job satisfaction levels. With that said, highfliers struggle to think outside the box, which can stifle overall company creativity.
Sometimes viewed as ‘wild cards’, mavericks are often great at finding unique solutions to problems and are able to think in abstract ways, making them highly valuable to their organisation, especially in a practical sense. They communicate well, even with other types of leaders, but have a tendency to ignore rules which they deem irrelevant, which can become a source of irritation to others.
Able to combine idealistic and pragmatic approaches into a single vision, tacticians excel when it comes to implementing dramatic change. Given that they are also able to manage people’s natural aversion to change, they are ideal leaders for organisations looking to go through a transformational phase. Meanwhile, their inquisitive nature and willingness to consult with others helps them to produce a strong corporate performance.
Finally, experimenters are the rarest leadership type and are set apart from strategists by their ability to reinvent and renew in truly meaningful ways. This type of leader has high moral standards, is comfortable talking to people from all walks of life and can oversee dramatic societal transformations. Other key characteristics include the ability to juggle priorities effectively, tackling short-term issues without ever losing sight of their long-term goals.