There are many leadership styles and a cottage industry has cropped up around defining them. Gayle Lantz, president of WorkMatters, Inc., a human resources consulting firm in Birmingham, Ala., uses the popular DISC assessment tool to as part of her practice to identify leadership styles.
DISC, an acronym for dominance, influencing, steadiness, and compliance, uses a series of questions each with four answers. Respondents indicate which style is most and least like their own. Lantz says she usually sees four core leadership styles emerge from these assessments. Individuals often tend to be a combination of styles, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
"To get the best results on a team, it's important to have a balance of different styles and also to get to a place of appreciating the other styles, as well," she says. Look for your own style in these four types.
Conductor. These leaders are direct, with a constant sense of urgency and focus on results. Conductors want to win, and often make quick decisions to get a competitive edge. The hard-charging style of these leaders drives change, values new ideas, and isn't afraid of confrontation. As a result, conductors tend to get things done.
Be careful of: Conductors may be characterized as difficult or egotistical. Impatience and the desire to move forward quickly can lead to impulsive decisions or mistakes. Lantz cautions conductors to take a breath and not expect others to always work at the same pace.
Related: How to Make Criticism Drive You
Influencer. If you have an optimistic, motivational, people-oriented communicator on your team, chances are you've found an Influencer. These leaders are typically enthusiastic and in tune with other people around them. They like helping and motivating other people and have a natural ability to do so.
Be careful of: Influencers may be too verbose and have trouble staying focused. The can also be disorganized and easily led by others. According to Lantz, influencers need to be careful not to let their relationships and fears get in the way of making good decisions.
Supporter. Steady and unflappable, supporters tend to be the glue that holds their team together. It's difficult to make them lose their tempers and they tend to be very loyal to those around them. They are patient, reliable and create a sense of calm and stability.
Be careful of: That same temperament that makes supporters such a stabilizing influence can also keep them mired in indecision and complacency. Because they dislike confrontation, they may avoid situations where it's inevitable. Risk-aversion and procrastination can also trip up supporters in their leadership roles.
Analyzer. Smart and analytical with a penchant for following the rules, analyzers are those detail-oriented leaders who ask thoughtful questions and leave no stone unturned to ensure quality and accuracy. Their pace is typically slower than other types of leaders, but the job is going to get done right the first time.
Be careful of: Analyzers can suffer from "analysis paralysis," letting their perfectionism hinder effective decision-making. They may fear mistakes or criticism of their work, so they want to make sure they have all of the information before moving forward. They can be perceived as micro-managing or nit-picky, and need to be conscious of when they are over-thinking a situation and, instead, need to take action.