When evaluating your leadership style, be honest with yourself

This article originally appeared on HR.com.

Employees’ happiness at work is more important in the workforce than ever before, and that feeling of fulfillment and engagement often comes from the top. Meaning, as a leader, you need to be aware of what type of leader you are and how that affects employees and clients. Then, you can more successfully navigate your weaknesses and discover your strengths to ultimately lead more effectively.

Let’s take a look at some of the main leadership personas that I’ve witnessed while coaching and what works best for each of them. See if one or more of these sound familiar:

In-The-Weeds Leaders

Leaders who are “in-the-weeds” tend to spend too much time in the day-to-day. They get bogged down with what they have in front of them and don’t think outside the box. Without innovation, the company runs the risk of coming to a grinding halt.

These leaders need to involve their team to help push toward larger goals. By delegating the current tasks to their team members, they can then focus on finding new ways to drive the business forward. They can work ON the business rather than IN it. In-the-weeds leaders may even need an outside party to hold them accountable for setting and reaching these new goals, which can help to ensure they are always moving forward.


Survivors can adapt, but they aren’t advancing. They know there is more that the company can be doing, but they can’t quite get their team on board.

These leaders should identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are actually predictive of the team’s ability to achieve the goals they have set. This is a behavioral shift for many corporate cultures. However, tracking the right KPIs is very effective in showing the team what’s possible and getting them to engage. It’ll ultimately help them thrive rather than merely survive.

Frustrated Leaders

These leaders know their companies can be better, but they’re upset because they aren’t able to scale at the rate they want. They’re bottling up their grievances and not sure where the disconnect is with their teams.

These leaders could consider seeking guidance from a third party, whether that’s a friend or colleague. Their frustration is keeping them from seeing where the true challenges lie, so an outside perspective can help to identify those problem areas. They also need to take the time to hear out their team members and get first-hand accounts on what’s not working. Both perspectives can help turn frustration into focus.

Don’t-Take-Success-For-Granted Leaders

On the surface, these leaders appear to have it all under control. Their companies are thriving, but they know failure could come just as quickly. They recognize that rapid growth can mean growing pains and that the people that helped the company get here may not be the ones to push it to the next level.

Instead of fearing impending doom, it would be better if these leaders focus their energies on putting control systems in place to meet and beat challenges when they come along.

Mindful Leaders

These leaders recognize that rapid growth is positive and should be encouraged, as long as they are scaling appropriately with formal organization and efficient processes. They are careful to avoid pushing forward blindly and losing essential parts of their culture and values along the way. However, these leaders could potentially take too long to think things through and miss out on new opportunities when they come along because they couldn’t act quickly enough.

These leaders should make sure that they are sticking to the systems they have in place, but also that they are open to new opportunities and able to evaluate them in a timely manner.  It’s important to constantly re-evaluate and adapt as the company grows and changes shape.

Control Freaks

These leaders can’t seem to let go of the wheel. They micromanage and forget to trust their team to get the job done, which fosters an atmosphere of frustration and mistrust. And in this atmosphere, they can no longer lead effectively.

To get comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty, they should work with their teams to identify why the company exists, what motivates team members and why their work is important. That will not only help the leader and the team establish a better dynamic, but also it’ll help them come to a mutual understanding of where the company is now and where it’s going in the future.

Old-Habits-Die-Hard Leaders

These leaders have a bad case of what I like to call “inertia” – they are completely resistant to change. On the surface, their companies are functioning well enough, but underlying internal conflict is brewing. There is a lack of alignment among the team, so employees are actually paddling in different directions without a clear focus on the company’s core values, core purpose and goals. As frustration builds, cracks begin to appear in the foundation of these businesses, and the leaders are in danger of destroying what they have worked so hard to build.

To break old habits, these leaders must open themselves up to new ideas from their teams. They need to make transparency a priority — better outlining company goals and how the team can work together to achieve them. If they put people first, they can achieve alignment, improved company culture and a better outlook for the future.

When evaluating your leadership style, be honest with yourself. If you can truly pinpoint where you are in the leadership spectrum, you’ll be able to better account for your challenges and capitalize on your assets. And that’s how you become more self-aware, and in turn, a much stronger leader.