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What type of a leader is leading you?





Author: Sowmya Keshava Published on June 14, 2021


Borrowing key leadership principles of some of the top large organisations as scenarios to give you a picture of how leaders and managers behave.

Whenever I have lead teams, some of the things I try to understand are - who needs more attention, who needs a push and who is clearly born with the ability to have a vision and lead.

There are different type of leaders, mostly depending on the kind of environment they have grown up in, kind of companies they have worked with, situations they have had to deal with both in personal and professional front and their own personalities that helps one become a leader.


Its lonely up there they say, and I wouldn't agree more.


One needs to be mentally prepared for an exciting yet harsh and challenging role of being a leader.

For the sake of this article, I have categorised leaders I have worked with into 3 most common types and their behaviour as per situations.

1.Alpha (Type 1 Leader) - Experienced, has shown leadership qualities since childhood, can take risks, intuitive and has been in difficult and awkward situations

2. Participative (Type 2 Leader) - Mostly observes and imitates other leaders. Would believe in ideologies of his superiors and follows it in everything that he does at work and reminds everyone around him about them when required.

3. Transactional (Type 3 Leader) - A new leader and questions his own ability but would do it for the sake of power, authority and status that comes with it.


Scenario 1: Principle - Have a backbone, disagree and commit.

Alpha: When something doesnt feel right, will talk to his/her management and fight it out if thats something worth fighting for. They have the courage to say 'no' and ask 'why?' when needed.

Participative Leader: Will say yes boss and go back to cribbing about how it is a bad decision, but will still not speak up and raise his/ her opinion fearing the repercussions of saying no or questioning his /her superior knowing very well that it is wrong decision.

Transactional Leader: Doesn't really know or understand the entire situation. Will say yes to the manager and proceed to execute the task without giving a thought to the end result of it.


Scenario 2: Taking ownership

Alpha: They own the tasks or projects and think beyond themselves and their teams. They have a long term vision. While doing so they think of the opportunities for growth for their individual team members and shine.

Participative Leader: Understands the project requirements, allocates responsibilities to team members, ensures the project is done.

Transactional Leader: Follows Type 2, believes job done is appreciation earned.


Scenario 3: Handling sensitive issues and maintaining confidentiality

Alpha: Even when his own leadership skills or decisions are questioned, will never reveal or share things that are confidential to the company or his team.

Participative Leader: Will maintain confidentiality but will trade it for something later with another manager or team member.

Transactional Leader: Discusses sensitive issues with others in the team and takes opinions and makes it his own.


Scenario 4: One-o-One to One-to-many

Alpha: Will find a balance between when team needs him/her and when they don't but will also have their back and is upto speed on ongoing projects. Has many one-o-one and one-to-many interactions

Participative Leader: Will call people out when tasks are not complete. Will ensure team has enough resources and guidance to complete tasks. one-o-one interactions only when required, mostly comfortable with one-to-many interactions.

Transactional Leader: Likes to work on his own. Will help team when asked for help but will mostly leave them on their own until disaster strikes. Avoids one-o-one interactions

Scenario 5: Team work and integrity

Alpha: Team work and integrity comes first

Participative Leader: Team work. Integrity is only with top management

Transactional Leader: I dont care. I have completed my work.

There are many leadership styles out there. I have picked the 3 most common styles I have seen in the startup scenario. So which one of these leaders , in your opinion, would you choose to lead you?


Tips to Founders - choose your managers and leaders wisely. Don't be in a hurry to delegate and groom someone to be a leader when they are not ready yet.


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