Higher Education Innovation In Action

Beyond Management: What Type of Leader Are You? Take the Quiz!

Rose Addison, Manager, Documentation & Training Mar 30, 2018

In my last leadership post, I wrote about the difference between leaders and managers, how Theory X and Theory Y thinking affect your leadership style, and how readiness and the situation at hand may dictate leadership steps.

Besides these fundamental factors, many leadership styles exist. While no one person operates solely within one style (that’s a good thing), understanding your own leadership tendencies can help you change your approach when the situation calls for it. 

Are you curious about what kind of leader you are? In the following post, we’ll focus on the four most common styles. Read on! 


Pragmatist leaders are practical, driven, and competitive. They tend to focus on the steps it takes to complete a project as well as the processes behind reaching goals. Pragmatic leaders often have high standards – for themselves and for their team – and value hitting their goals above anything else. They are usually seen as bold in their thinking and don’t want to hear excuses.

Pragmatist Pros

  • Get tasks done effectively
  • Practical in their approach    

Pragmatist Cons

  • May be considered harsh or negative
  • May drive people too hard    

When It Works

  • When the team is already skilled and motivated    

When to Try a Different Approach…

  • When you’re looking for innovation or creativity    


Idealist leaders are charismatic, open-minded, and full of energy. They strive to constantly learn and grow from their experiences and believe others should do the same. Idealists see the potential in those around them – especially their employees – and push them to tackle goals creatively. They are usually thought of as hard-working and don’t tend to shy away from a challenge.

 Idealist Pros

  • Devoted to the greater good
  • Wonderful motivators  

Idealist Cons

  • May be viewed as Pollyannaish
  • May not be great leaders for process-driven folks   

When It Works

  •  When team members are open to building new skills and strengths    

When to Try a Different Approach…

  • When folks are defiant or don’t respect a leader’s skills or competence   


Steward leaders are supportive, committed, and dependable. They take pride in their work, value the greater good, and strive to provide a stable and inclusive work environment – especially for their team. They are usually seen as having a “glass is half-full approach” and are quick to offer praise and recognition.

Steward Pros

  • Focused on the individual well-being of others
  • Empowering    

Steward Cons

  •  Consensus-driven approach may frustrate others
  • A people-first mentality may diminish their authority   

When It Works

  • When the team is stressed out or apprehensive about a new situation, change, or role    

When to Try a Different Approach…

  • When your team is insubordinate or reluctant to leadership    


Diplomatic leaders are typically seen as kind, loyal, and inclusive. They tend to focus on building harmonious relationships and are often thought of as the social glue of an organization. Diplomats foster the strengths of those around them and often consider other perspectives before making decisions. They are usually thought of as fair and trustworthy because their actions are consistent with their words.

Diplomat Pros

  • Willing to compromise
  • Respectful of others’ values    

Diplomat Cons

  • May struggle to challenge employees
  • May avoid conflict to the detriment of themselves or their team    

When It Works

  •  When a team needs to take ownership of a decision, approach, or goal  

When to Try a Different Approach…

  • When team members aren’t savvy enough to make decisions without guidance

It’s important to remember that no one leadership style fits every circumstance or relationship; we all need to adapt in an ever-changing environment. Finding and maintaining the correct balance is key!

After reading this, what do you think your leadership style is? Take this quiz to determine if the results match your original self-evaluation.