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Liz Bentley: 'The badass' or 'mayor' — What's your leadership style?

The executive coach says identifying your leadership type can help you create an environment people will gravitate to and flourish as part of your team.
Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs.
Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs.Miller Hawkins

Being the boss is tough in today’s world where expectations and demands are higher than ever. Leaders are expected to inspire and motivate others, empathize and understand all types of people — while at the same time driving exceptional results. This can be overwhelming.

So, how do you realistically rise to handle it all as a leader and go from good to great? While the answer can have many solutions, I encourage you to simplify it by understanding who you are as a leader — your preferences, mindset and the culture you create.

I have found that there are four types of leaders, all of which are great in their own unique way. By figuring out your type and leveraging it while avoiding the pitfalls, you’ll create an environment people will gravitate to and flourish within as part of your team.

The Badass

Signs this is you: You are a driver who’s always on the move, and you like speed. You think everything should have been done yesterday! You exude confidence even when unsure of all the facts. You are focused on the goal and pushing for good results, sometimes at all costs. You are determined, you do not take “no” for an answer and are not afraid to go over, through or around a wall to get things done. There is no mountain too high and you will carry others to the top if need be. You are always raising the bar, and you either inspire or just push everyone, especially yourself, to greater heights.

Your best assets: You love to win and will do what it takes to get there. You create a dynamic and engaging culture that rewards determination and persistence.

Top pitfalls to avoid: You are known as an intimidator for a reason, so remember to celebrate wins, give out compliments and just say thank you once in a while — it will go a long way. Push your team to greatness, but remember your goals and expectations can be unrealistic so keep them in check to keep your team motivated and working hard.

The Mayor

Signs this is you: You are charismatic and optimistic. You believe anything is possible and all ideas are good ones. You are jovial and love to talk. You will entertain people for hours with fun stories and sometimes tall tales. Your energy is contagious and lights up the room. You are also on the move, getting things done quickly, but you are not a fan of problems. You prefer to see the bright side in all situations and don’t love ‘Debbie Downers’ pointing out ‘the issues.’ You are spontaneous and like to fly by the seat of your pants with boundless ideas swirling.

Your best assets: You are the master of brainstorming and you love promoting ideas. You create a culture that rewards enthusiasm, creativity and collaboration.

Top pitfalls to avoid: While you may be the showstopper with your charm and gift of gab, remember that we have to get things done. Stay focused by making daily and weekly to-do’s to get your vision and big ideas off the ground. Stop saying yes to everything so you can keep the forward momentum and not frustrate your team.

The Thinker

Signs this is you: You go slow. You really like to think things through, create process and be quality conscious as you do not believe in ‘good enough.’ You are organized and prepared; you are always planning ahead. You are also great at finding the facts and researching them thoroughly. You don’t love change or risk taking and like to take your time to get things right – for yourself, your team and the organization. You value punctuality, hard work and attention to detail in others and seek to create systems that provide order and consistency for all.

Your best assets: You are skeptical by nature, always calculating what could go wrong, which makes you exceptional at finding flaws. You create a calm and steady environment where everyone knows what is expected of them and timelines are clear.

Top pitfalls to avoid: Your ability to find fault can go overboard when you become too pessimistic and risk averse, shutting down change. Remember to keep an eye on the big picture so that you don’t go down the rabbit hole and delay projects and stop innovation. Don’t lead with no.

The Diplomat

Signs this is you: You are calm and dependable. You appear easy going with low drama. You do what you say and say what you do. You don’t showboat your accolades but instead prefer to have the spotlight on others, giving credit where it is due. Loyalty and trust are of the utmost importance to you, and you are motivated to work hard for your team. You pride yourself on knowing everyone’s name and are willing to pitch in when needed. You tend to avoid conflict in an attempt to create a relaxed atmosphere.

Your best assets: You are great at relationship building. By being stable, friendly and predictable, you create a calm and nurturing environment in which people feel supported.

Top pitfalls to avoid: Your desire to be a people pleaser makes for a comfortable environment until it doesn’t. Conflict is part of growth and unavoidable. Being afraid to share you real opinion loses respect from the people around so speak up, stop hedging and be clear with both your language and your decision making.

Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs. She is a nationally recognized keynote speaker and executive coach to top leaders and teams across a broad range of industries.