Not a People Leader? Here are Two Other Types to Consider.

Like this on Facebook

Here’s a favorite pastime of mine: When someone signs up for my newsletter and takes a moment to introduce herself.

In the first email that a new subscriber receives from me, I ask, “What is your biggest concern about becoming a leader (or being a better leader)?” I like it when they ask a real thought-provoking question, like this one from Gillian, a Marketing Specialist with a financial firm. She asked: Do you have to manage people in order to be a leader?”

In my reply to Gillian, I shared a lesson learned after speaking at a biotech company’s leadership retreat for high-potential women employees last year.

I was leading the group through an exercise to find their career “sweet spot” and identify their leadership brand. When one of the participants asked, “Can anyone be a leader?” one of the senior leaders, VP and GM Amy Butler, raised her hand and shared this thoughtful reply: “There’s more than one type of leader.”

“I once read that there are three types,” she continued. “There are people leaders, process leaders, and thought leaders. You need to figure out which one you are.”

I really appreciated that. When it comes to leadership, much of what is written, taught, and discussed is focused, perhaps too narrowly, on “people leadership”, as if leadership is limited to managing people and teams. Those who aren’t “people leaders” are oft overlooked and underrated, and may never come to realize that they, too, are leaders.

You also can’t be all things to all people. Discover what you’re good at and what you’re not good at, and find collaborators, other leaders, whose strengths complement your own. Personally, I like to think of myself as a “thought leader” or a subject-matter expert. I work with a terrific process leader. Thankfully, she is also great at leading herself, which makes up for my self-perceived deficit in the people leadership department.

Are you a thought leader, a process leader or a people leader? Read on to discover the type of leader you are.

1) The Thought Leader

What is a thought leader? I asked Denise Brosseau, author of “Ready To Be a Thought Leader?”

“Thought leaders are the trusted opinion leaders and go-to people in their fields of expertise,” she said. According to Brosseau, who I like to think of as the thought leader of thought leadership, these are more than just “ideas people.” “They galvanize and inspire others with innovative ideas, and help them scale those ideas into sustainable change,” says Brosseau. In this way, a thought leader’s reach can be much broader than their team or company.

You might be a thought leader if you’re passionate about your area of expertise, have a thirst for learning, and love to share your knowledge with others. You’re always looking for ways to apply your knowledge to make a difference, and you light up when you discover a challenging problem to solve.

2) The Process Leader

Process leaders are strategizers, planners, and optimizers. They take large, complex, business goals and show how they will be achieved. A process leader’s role is to clarify what needs to happen, when it needs to happen, and then implement it, which they do by orchestrating the right people, resources and activities, linking every part of an organization’s effort back to the shared goals. They use their influence across organizational boundaries to get the job done — whatever it takes. They take responsibility for making it happen.

You might be a process leader if you love to attack a stretch goal by breaking it down into an achievable plan. You can’t help but can see how the big picture and the finer details fit together. You have a passion for excellence, and are always looking for a smarter, faster, more efficient way to get things done.

3) The People Leader

There’s much that has been written about this type of leader, so I’ll keep it brief and share some of my favorite observations.

The best people leaders take time to understand others, identifying their strengths and exploring what motivates them. They know how to effectively coach underperformers, reward excellence, and bring out the best in people. These leaders build people up and help them grow. They also ensure that the right people are in the right roles, and that everyone’s working together as a team, focused on a common goal.

You might be a people leader if you enjoy motivating, empowering, and developing others. You care about the wellbeing of individuals and the team. There’s nothing you enjoy more than seeing others succeed.

In business, we need more than just one type of leader. We need thought leaders, process leaders, and people leaders. Which one are you, or which one would you like to become?

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Recommended

Quotivations: Quotes about motivating yourself and others

Here's a welcome bonus from having a webinar about motivation: You learn a whole lot of new motivational quotes (or "quotivations.") Here are some of the ...

Don’t be a professional pretzel! It’s better when you’re authentic at work

Have you ever been a professional pretzel? In my mid twenties, I was. Let me explain: I spent the early years of my professional life ...

4 Thoughts You Need To Let Go Of So You Can Delegate Already

Intellectually and theoretically you know you need to delegate. You could list the benefits (it allows you more time to do your ‘secret sauce’ work ...

  • Lane

    Thank you, Jo, for the great read and perspective on “alternate” leadership types. I identify with the Process Leadership role. I look forward to sharing your article with my mentorship group later this week. I think it sets the stage for a very interesting conversation.

Ready to lead?

We'll show you how!
Get email updates from Be Leaderly.

Our mission is to provide the career strategies that help you lead, climb and thrive as a rising woman of influence.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

How to Manage Former Peers

Let’s talk about a potentially awkward situation. You get a new role and ...

Thank You, Leaderlies
Thank You, Leaderlies

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we consider ourselves to be extremely lucky to know you, our

My Favorite Salary Negotiation Tactic (That Recruiters Love, Too).
My Favorite Salary Negotiation Tactic (That Recruiters Love, Too).

How many of you negotiated your first job offer? I have to admit I didn’t.

Transform Your To-Do List With This Quick Productivity Hack
Transform Your To-Do List With This Quick Productivity Hack

You’re probably familiar with the story for a jar that represents the time available in your life.

Why You Need a Sponsor Not a Mentor!
Why You Need a Sponsor Not a Mentor!

Could your career use an influential advocate? When you first begin your career, it’s important

Leaderly Quote: Dream. Do. Dream.
Leaderly Quote: Dream. Do. Dream.

“Don’t let a dream become a fantasy, which is what happens when you never act

Don’t be the Best Kept Secret in Your Organization
Don’t be the Best Kept Secret in Your Organization

“I feel like I’m the best kept secret in this organization,” said Tina. She had

Technology, Peace and Sanity
Technology, Peace and Sanity

A few years ago, I sat down and did some math. I tallied up how

Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here are the top articles that other emerging leaders have been reading at BeLeaderly.com this

Don’t Let Fear Steal Your Dreams
Don’t Let Fear Steal Your Dreams

Fear steals our dreams. Think about the last time you really longed for something but

Leaderly Quote: See yourself as a leader now.
Leaderly Quote: See yourself as a leader now.

“See yourself as a leader now. Leadership is an action not a position.” — Cindy Pace,

4 Ways to Improve Your Financial Intelligence
4 Ways to Improve Your Financial Intelligence

Let’s be honest: Most of us who did not start our careers in finance would

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Mindy Seiffert
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Mindy Seiffert

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing

Improving Diversity in Hiring
Improving Diversity in Hiring

Caveat: Diversity is more than gender. I’ve used gender in some of these examples because

Leaderly Quote: When you fail, it diminishes your fear
Leaderly Quote: When you fail, it diminishes your fear

You took a big risk… and failed. What now? This is a question I asked

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address.
Copyright 2017, Be Leaderly