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What Kind of Leader Are You?

Karen Kimsey-House  |  May 03, 2017
Photo Credit: Digital Vision

When you think of leadership, what images spring to mind?

Perhaps you see a bold visionary standing alone at the helm of the organization, brimming with charisma. Or perhaps it is someone more dictatorial — the boss barking out orders to subordinates. In either case, this form of leadership is one-dimensional, and in today’s fast-paced environment, the need for creative problem-solving far surpasses the capacity of the one-dimensional leader.

The old transactional model of doing business for monetary reward carries us only so far. We are moving to a new relational paradigm, where how we interact with ourselves, others and our environment is as important as what we produce.

From this comes a new multidimensional form of collaborative leadership that incorporates all aspects of who we are. In Co-Active Leadership, there are five key leadership styles, which we are continually moving in and out of throughout our life and our work.

The Five Key Leadership Styles

  1. Leader Within. Leader Within is the foundation upon which all other leadership styles are built. Leader Within holds both self-acceptance and self-authority, which is reflected by our capacity to act with integrity according to our personal values.
  1. Leader in Front. Leader in Front holds the grand vision and engages and inspires others. Unlike the traditional model of a leader, a Leader in Front does not need to have all the answers and instead captures the range of talent from those around them. By fostering leadership in others, the Leader in Front generates collaboration, involving and therefore engaging everyone in the direction and mission.
  1. Leader Behind. In essence, Leader Behind embodies coaching as a competency to evoke the leader in others. Leader Behind listens on all levels, including the space in between words, and connects individual pieces with the greater vision. This is where service is born, behind the scenes, bringing the vision to life.
  1. Leader Beside. Leaders Beside may be called to work in tandem with others, in an authentic partnership where the inner-play of leading and following intermingles. In this dimension, engaging conversation, dynamic disagreement and fluid spontaneity foster unexpected results.
  1. Leader in the Field. Leaders in the Field are open to the unknown, understanding that when they let go of what is defined and known, instinct will emerge to guide and direct action. Leaders in the Field set the highest standards by knowing when and how to act in any given situation.

With these five key styles, leadership become more agile and resourceful, accessing the greater range of our human capacity. In this multidimensional approach, leadership is no longer defined by role or status. Instead, “leading” becomes a part of who we are. When we take responsibility for how we show up not only for others but for ourselves as well, we become aware of the impact we are having and take ownership of it.

As organizations utilize new trends in innovation and technology to improve overall customer service needs, so too do those in leadership positions need to find new and agile ways to contribute across a wide range of ever-changing situations.

Where do you notice these five styles emerging within your organizational culture, and where is there opportunity to engage these principles further?

Karen Kimsey-House

About Karen Kimsey-House

Karen Kimsey-House, President and Co-Founder of CTI, brings her entrepreneurial and business experience insights to CTI. She is at the forefront of the coaching profession as a well-known keynote speaker, workshop leader and co-author of the industry best-seller, Co-Active Coaching. Karen is a founding member of the Personal and Professional Coaches Association. Karen today continues her work as a professional coach, specializing in entrepreneurs and start-up companies, helping them with innovative business practices and no-nonsense strategies to move things forward quickly.

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What People Are Saying

Apparently we are all white leaders. You can do better, CTI.

Thank you so much for your comment CPPC. You are absolutely right…the photo is a BIG miss on CTI’s part. Not quite sure how this particular photo was selected and am investigating. ..Of course we’ll correct the photo.

More importantly however, I really appreciate the opportunity to generate more awareness with the person who is managing transform posts. Again, thanks so much for your partnership!


Thank you Karen,
Leadership…this is one topic that always remains in our agenda, how can we do better to contribute others to do better. It is not about the task, is about the transformation, on who we decide to become to contribute more to others and to ourselves.

Is this article available in PDF format? I would love to share with fellow leaders who are engaging around coaching based leadership. It’s so hard to describe and this article does that so clearly!

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