Mark Murphy, Founder of Leadership IQ and creator of the leadership styles assessment, believes there are four primary leadership styles: Pragmatist, Idealist, Steward, and Diplomat.
While one style is not better or worse than another, there are significant differences between them. The Leadership Styles Assessment found on the Leadership IQ website allows managers and other leaders to take a brief questionnaire to determine what their leadership style is.
The success of leaders depends highly on the interaction between their style and the styles of their employees. In the Forbes article, “Which Of These 4 Leadership Styles Are You?“, Murphy outlines the four styles and the differences between them.
A Pragmatist leader is very results-oriented and will often put meeting a goal before employees feelings. Murphy states that top-level executives tend to be more Pragmatists than Managers, Directors and Vice Presidents, even though this is the least common of the leadership styles. Employees who are driven and strive to be the best flourish under a Pragmatist. However, employees who have trouble taking criticism may be turned off by Pragmatist brusque matter-of-fact attitude.
The next style described by Murphy is an Idealist. Idealists would often be seen as happy-go-lucky and may be viewed by a Pragmatist as having their “head in the clouds.” The benefit of an Idealist leadership style is that often employees may be able to find better more effective ways to accomplish a task when given the freedom to explore and not be constrained by the “right way” to complete a task. On the other hand, an employee that prefers a clear sense of direction may become frustrated by the Idealist leader.
The third leadership style is Steward. Stewards are dependable and loyal and can often be a steady guide during times of transition or uncertainty. The downside to Stewards is that they value rules and processes and may be less likely to challenge the status quo. However, for a high-performing team, a Steward leader can help keep them chugging like the well-oiled machine that they are.
The final and most common of the leadership styles is Diplomat. As the name suggests, Diplomats just want everyone to get along. They are great at resolving conflict or helping to prevent conflict in the first place. A Diplomat leader can be just the thing to get a new team moving forward or help a struggling team.