The Positive Coach’s Four Styles of Leadership

Leaders in “sit spots” journaling on the beach.

This week was the first week of Coastside Leadership Academy’s Summer Leadership Seminar. We had an enthusiastic group of blooming leaders. We hiked, climbed trees, swung on swings, and played games, all while learning about ourselves as humans and leaders through introspection. At CLA introspective time starts with a guided meditation to calm our bodies. From there, we discuss a theme for the day, and then send the leaders off to find their own “sit spots” in the forest or beach to think and journal. 

One of the things we introduced to our leaders were four styles of leadership. I have read and researched many different types of leadership during my career and these definitions are a combination of all the things I have learned. When talking about different types of leadership at CLA I use language that teenage girls can relate to, and this means that our leadership definitions are evolving. It is important to stay open to change and refine things to make them more clear for students. I have found that the evolution of these leadership definitions over the years is the fun part of being a leadership coach.

Vocal Leader– A leader who uses their voice. 

Leader by Example– A leader who models the values and lifestyle they want to see in the world.

Service Leader– A leader who serves the community or others. I previously called this leadership style a “servant leader”. To me, the word “servant” started to feel like the leader was sacrificing and losing a part of themselves to lead this way, and I wanted the definition to feel more empowered. The word service feels more positive and implies that the leader wants to be leading in this way. Giving their time to serve others helps them feel whole. 

Leader by Position– A leader who uses the power of their position to influence others. I previously called this an authoritative leader. When talking about leadership I always showed authoritative leaders as a negative leadership style, but I recently realized that I wanted a more neutral definition. It is possible for leaders to stand in their power, and confidently use their position to help, not just force their beliefs on others. 

When talking about leadership with students, I like these current definitions because of their neutrality. All leadership styles have their pros and cons. It is also important to point out that all leaders usually use a combination of the four styles to lead. 

This week at the Seminar we gave our leaders time to think about the four styles and decide what appealed to them about each style. To show understanding, we wrote the four definitions spread out in the sand and then called out the name of a current popular leader like Simone Biles, Michelle Obama, or Lizzo. They had to decide what type of leadership style the popular leader exhibits and then they loved running to that station along the beach. It was a great exercise because there were no wrong answers, just critical thinking, reasoning, and articulating their points of views to the group. All skills our leaders will need in the future.

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