What is Your Leadership Style?

May 12, 2014

I’ve been thinking about leadership lately. Specifically, how different executives lead their teams. I’ve encountered many different types of leaders over the years: some who are forceful and some who are subtle in their approach to leadership. Inevitably, it makes me reflect on my own style of leadership.

I learned a great deal about leadership from my father. While he did not have a college degree, he earned the title of vice president in a very large company. His strong will, competitive instincts and excellent people skills took him from being a salesman in the field to a corner office in New York City. He had a saying that rings clearer to me each day and one I try to emulate. He felt that the previously held belief that the definition of Management – “getting things done through others” was incomplete. He felt it should be “Management – getting things done through others while making them better for themselves and the company.”

So what kind of leader are you?

Robyn Benincasa, author of HOW WINNING WORKS: 8 Essential Leadership Lessons from the Toughest Teams on Earth, identifies six types of leaders and their styles.

  • The pacesetter says “Do as I do, now.”
  • The authoritative leader says “Come with me.”
  • The affilative leader creates the sense that “People come first.”
  • The coaching leader says “Try this.”
  • The coercive leader demands “Do what I tell you.”
  • The democratic leader asks “What do you think?”

Looking at myself, I started out as more of an authoritarian. I was raised in a culture where this style was expected. While my focus and drive has enabled me to be very successful as the president of a company, it’s not the whole story. You see, Sea-Land Chemical Company is 100 % employee owned. I’d say that responsibility is shared within our company more than most. For that reason, I find myself becoming more of a coach and mentor whose job is to help others achieve success. I call it leading from behind.

In my opinion, this is one of the most difficult forms of leadership. It takes patience. Sometimes, I have to hold my tongue and give others the space to find the answer. Sometimes, I even have to let them stumble. However, I always have to be there to help them back up. I am not perfect at it but I am trying!

I believe that we are a stronger organization for it.

How do you measure the effect of your leadership? Is it in dollars earned? Projects successfully completed? The longevity of your company and your position within it? Or is it the success you nurture in others.

Let me know your thoughts and email me at joseph.clayton@sealandchem.com.

All the Best,



Joe Clayton
Sea-Land Chemical Company