How to Figure Out What Kind of Leader You’ll Be

UPDATED: July 15, 2019
PUBLISHED: June 22, 2015

Millennials are on the rise across the business landscape—companies big and small are hiring more and more of the young digital natives. So it was inevitable that they would begin to take over executive roles, start their own entrepreneurial enterprises and move rapidly up the corporate ladder. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics actually predicts that millennials will make up approximately 75 percent of the workforce by 2030, with one-third in leadership roles.

At the same time, businesses are betting on their top performers—their future leaders. In 2014 alone, U.S. businesses spent an estimated $15 billion on leadership development, focusing 70 percent of those dollars on young employees with “high-potential”—differentiating “leaders” from the rest of the pack. The truth is, $10.5 billion of those dollars might have headed in the wrong direction.

Related: The Leadership Secret to Supercharging Your Team

So many people believe that they are not “leadership material,” when in reality everyone has the capacity to impact and influence others in meaningful ways, to lead.

From my experience consulting across industries and coaching hundreds of millennials, the right question to ask is not, Am I a leader? The right question to ask is, What kind of leader am I?

The No. 1 essential trait that every young leader needs to grow personally and advance professionally is self-awareness. Self-awareness is an adequate understanding of your natural preference for thinking, behaving and feeling. The journey to growing in self-awareness requires discovering, developing and leveraging the raw material and talent within.

You can start to grow in self-awareness by answering two simple questions:

1. How do you prefer to plan?
2. How do you prefer to implement that plan?

Some people like to start planning by first considering the details of the project, task or new idea. Others like to start planning by first considering the possibilities of the project, task or new idea.

When it comes time to implement the plan, some people prefer to think through the process of accomplishing the project first. Others prefer to begin implementing by first considering the people involved in the project.

Related: Rohn: 7 Personality Traits of a Great Leader

By looking at the combination of your preferences, you can figure out what kind of leader you are. This kind of clarity gives you the language and insight to take the next step in your career.

There are four possibilities:

1. Details + Process = DRIVERS

Drivers are logistical leaders focused on efficiency, precision and getting the job done on time.

Drivers live by the mantra that “the leader is the lesson.” They hold fast to the belief that the only thing that builds and sustains credibility is how they exemplify their standards of excellence and execution in real time. They literally drive behavior by focusing on the details of the process and striving for the most efficient way to operate.

• Drivers make up an estimated 35 percent of the U.S. population.
• Key characteristics: realistic, logical, pragmatic and systematic

2. Details + People = DOERS

Doers are tactical leaders focused on support, encouragement and getting the job done together.

Doers are motivated by the needs of others. They work diligently with a mental checklist of what needs to be accomplished in order to fulfill the commitments they have made. They literally do the heavy lifting and thankless jobs that most times go unnoticed but are critical for the task to be accomplished.

• Doers make up an estimated 35 percent of the U.S. population.
• Key characteristics: responsible, cooperative, tolerant and loyal

3. Possibilities + Process = DESIGNERS

Designers are strategic leaders focused on ingenuity, innovation and creating a better way to get the job done.

Designers are fascinated with what could be. They are motivated by the latest theory or strategy for getting work done. They desire competence in those they lead and those they are being led by. They literally design long-range solutions driven by curiosity and effective outcomes.

• Designers make up an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. population.
• Key characteristics: analytical, autonomous, clever and theoretical

4. Possibilities + People = DEVELOPERS

Developers are ideological leaders focused on engagement, development and adding value to the job.

Developers strive to live an integrated life. They are motivated by a deep sense of compassion and their own personal values. They desire inclusive work environments that are values-driven. They literally develop people, programs and products that will add-value to the world today.

• Developers make up an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. population.
• Key characteristics: flexible, empathetic, original and enthusiastic

So, what kind of leader are you?

You may not feel like you are leadership material, but the truth is you might just need a bit of encouragement, practice and time to embrace your unique style of leadership.

Related: Leaders Eat Last

Steve Knox is the founder of, a leadership coach and author. For the past 12 years, he's helped people all over the planet discover a different way to live and work. His latest book, Confidence: The Science & Art of Self-Belief, is available online and in major bookstores.