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

Overcoming obstacles to become an effective leader

I spoke with Jenna Connour at LocalJobNetwork Radio about the challenges women still face in the workplace, and some ways to overcome those obstacles to ...

7 Ways To Build Great Relationships With Your Team

The challenges facing new leaders in a business situation are many and varied. It’s a demanding time, after all, for an individual both professionally and ...

Leaderly Quote: Lead from where you are...

You simply won't find a stronger advocate for women in leadership than Tara Jaye Frank. Years ago, soon after we first met via Twitter, Tara ...

  • 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 ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

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

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 ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

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

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

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

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

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

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 ...

Public speaking tips for introverts. (Like me.)
Public speaking tips for introverts. (Like me.)

It was just an ordinary Tuesday. I woke up, made a strong pot of coffee,

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Roderick Wilson
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Roderick Wilson

This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Roderick Wilson, Senior Vice President Market

Leaderly Quote: Strip away the drama from your leadership style…
Leaderly Quote: Strip away the drama from your leadership style…

Need to have a “tough love” conversation with someone at work? Stay calm, stick to

The Number One Way to Make a Difficult Conversation Easier
The Number One Way to Make a Difficult Conversation Easier

Need to have a difficult conversation with an employee, peer, or supervisor at work? Whether

Leaderly Quote: The best way to become who you’re destined to be…
Leaderly Quote: The best way to become who you’re destined to be…

“The best way to become who you’re destined to be is to accept who you

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

Here they are! The most-viewed Be Leaderly articles for the past month. 1. 25 Questions

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Christina Lewis
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Christina Lewis

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

Six Ways to Attract and Hire Women in Male-Dominated Industries
Six Ways to Attract and Hire Women in Male-Dominated Industries

Current news stories make it sound like it’s impossible to attract women to high-tech jobs.

Leaderly Quote: There’s something inside you that is stronger…
Leaderly Quote: There’s something inside you that is stronger…

“It’s impossible to please everybody,” writes Alexandra Franzen in her article, You’re Going to be

You Can Make Excuses or You Can Make Progress
You Can Make Excuses or You Can Make Progress

The other day, I hopped in a cab. The driver and I started chatting, as

3 Rules for Rule-Breakers
3 Rules for Rule-Breakers

“You can’t leave your career when you’re at your height—it will derail you.” That was

Leaderly Quote: Everyone needs a few influential advocates.
Leaderly Quote: Everyone needs a few influential advocates.

Everyone needs a few influential advocates. It’s not an exaggeration to say that with one

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

Here’s what other emerging leaders have been reading at BeLeaderly.com this month. Do you like

4 Corporate Culture Questions to Ask in a Job Interview
4 Corporate Culture Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

You’ve made it to the final round job interview, and are starting to feel hopeful.

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