What Type of Leader Are You?

If you’ve ever worked with me you know that one of my favorite questions is…

“How well are you leading yourself?”

I didn’t create that question, I ripped it off from Ben Kinney. Click here for Ben’s Leadership Triangle. What I love about this question is that it can be used in the macro and the micro. You can look at your life overall (macro) or chunk it down into individual areas. For example…

“How well am I leading myself in my health, relationships, business, family…?”

It’s truly a remarkable question that anyone can use regularly to stay focused on what matters most.

Right now we find ourselves in uncertain times. A pandemic that we would all like to believe is over and yet continues rearing its head. Political unrest. Rampant inflation. Rising interest rates driving a wonky real estate market. Our world can at times feel as if it has been flipped upside down.

As a coach, my job is to find and identify patterns. Patterns of thought, patterns of behavior, patterns or decisions, etc. One pattern I am noticing as the world continues to shift and change is three different types of leaders are emerging.

I call them Cheer Leaders, Fear leaders, and Mirror leaders. You can tell which type of leader someone is showing up as based on two things. One is their relationship to fear and second the conversations they are having.


Cheerleaders are those people who believe everything is just great. They lean way too hard to the care side. They don’t want to upset anyone, so they avoid candid conversations that are necessary to take their businesses to the next level. They walk around on eggshells, creating this culture of safety and security, which is important. And yet, it’s also important that we have performance, especially right now. Are you acting as a cheerleader?

What I see also observe with cheerleaders is that they lead from fear, and they’re leading from fear of what people think of them. They’re leading from fear of people leaving them, but regardless they’re leading from fear, even though it shows up as cheer.

Fear Leaders

Now, the second leader I see is a Fear Leader. A Fear Leader is also someone leading from fear, but their fear shows up in a very different way. It’s typically in doomsday talk and when they get threatened, they threaten other people. Their approach is very heavy-handed and top-down. The problem with it is that there’s not enough care in the relationships and the conversations that they’re having with people. If cheerleaders lack candor, fear leaders lack care. And so what they’re doing is creating a toxic culture that doesn’t foster growth and innovation. Are you acting as a fear leader? Are you walking around scaring people, and lacking care in your conversations?

Mirror Leaders

The last one is a Mirror Leader. A Mirror Leader is somebody who looks themselves in the mirror and truly understands/lives extreme ownership. Their business and everything that happens within it is a reflection of them and their level of commitment. These are people who know when to have a candid conversation. They don’t put it off, they don’t dance around the issues. They lead in a humane way that gets continuous buy-in from their people. They’re also having care conversations, meaning they’re walking around using their emotional intelligence, paying attention, understanding that as we live in an uncertain world, it creates uncertainty in people. They act as this beacon of confidence and hope.

Out of the three types of leaders, it’s obvious which one we all aspire to be. We know life is an inside job and our businesses are simply a reflection of our own level of thinking. My intention in writing this article is to bring awareness to you on how you are showing up. How well are you leading yourself? What type of leader are you showing up as? And are you willing to do the work to build a magnificent organization or life that mirrors the quality of your vision? I know it isn’t easy and yet it is always worth it.