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

Jo Miller is a leading authority on women’s leadership and a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker who delivers 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 is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com and CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. Learn more about Jo’s services at www.JoMiller.net and follow @jo_miller on Twitter.

Recommended

Want to be more strategic? Here are 6 questions to ask yourself.

Have you ever been told that you need to be less tactical? If you moved a position that required it, could you make the transition ...

Webinar: The Language of Leadership on Tuesday, February 24

Got something to say? How you say it matters. Carefully chosen words can maximize your leadership impact. Join me on February 24 for the next ...

6 Ways To Be An Entrepreneur At The Office

How many times have you read a job description or spoken to someone about an opportunity – inside or outside of your organization – and ...

  • 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. ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

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

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

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

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 ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

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

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

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

How to Manage Former Peers

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

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

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

Be Famous For Something! What’s Your Personal Brand?
Be Famous For Something! What’s Your Personal Brand?

Years ago, in one of my first leadership webinars, I interviewed a woman who was

Three Ways to Grow a Culture of Innovation at Work
Three Ways to Grow a Culture of Innovation at Work

When I was 10 years old, all I wanted was a skateboard. Because my parents

Leaderly Quote: Provide people with the air cover they need…
Leaderly Quote: Provide people with the air cover they need…

“Provide people with the air cover they need to do their best work.” — Jo

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Risa Hunter
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Risa Hunter

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

Let’s Stop Telling Young Ambitious Women to Find a Mentor
Let’s Stop Telling Young Ambitious Women to Find a Mentor

Kaytie Zimmerman is an optimistic millennial, and so much so that she founded a blog

Nervous About a New Leadership Role? Here’s How to Rise to the Challenge.
Nervous About a New Leadership Role? Here’s How to Rise to the Challenge.

I was chatting to a client a while back who told me she was feeling

4 Qualities of an Effective Disruptor
4 Qualities of an Effective Disruptor

Businesses need disruptors to survive. Your company needs people who will question how things are

New Hire Onboard? Here’s What To Do Next.
New Hire Onboard? Here’s What To Do Next.

You’re pretty sure you’ve got this onboarding thing down. You’ve been building your team slowly

Leaderly Quote: Don’t try to do it all
Leaderly Quote: Don’t try to do it all

“Being able to delegate effectively is critical to your success,” says Alice Katwan, Senior Vice

Know When to Say “No”
Know When to Say “No”

The truth is too many people are afraid to say “no” in the workplace, especially

Leaderly Quote: Mentoring isn’t an extracurricular activity
Leaderly Quote: Mentoring isn’t an extracurricular activity

“Mentoring isn’t an extracurricular activity. It’s vital for cultivating an enriching, inclusive community.” — Diana

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

Are you curious what other emerging leaders have been reading at Be Leaderly.com? Here they

3 Acts of Courage to Transform Your Career
3 Acts of Courage to Transform Your Career

What was your first big, bold, act of courage? For Nithya Ruff, Senior Director, Open

Moving From People-Pleaser to Robust Leader
Moving From People-Pleaser to Robust Leader

Being nice is good for business – until it’s not. You may think that being

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