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Leadership 2.0: 6 Leadership Mindsets Defined

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Lean Daily Management System (LDMS) (157-slide PowerPoint presentation). The concepts of Lean are straightforward and can be easily understood. In comparison to technical engineering projects, implementing Lean designs is relatively simple. However, many attempts to implement Lean production end in disappointing results. Why is it so challenging to achieve successful [read more]

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There isn’t one leadership approach that can guarantee success in every situation.

Leadership necessitates an assortment of methodologies that leaders can use based on the circumstances—ranging from being self-centric to helping the humanity.  In order to develop effective teams, inculcate a sense of teamwork, and make a positive impact, leaders need to be aware of the strong points and limitations of their team members and the behaviors that they typically adopt with others.  To identify the leadership approach of a leader and their power to inspire, they need to answer, “Whom do they serve?”

Researchers have recognized 6 leadership mindsets based on interviews with top leaders from a range of industries and organizations, and through studies on cognitive leadership and developmental psychology.  Typically, leaders display a portfolio of mindsets, which vary from individual to individual.  These mindsets guide their judgment and behaviors, and can transform the direction and performance of the enterprise.

The 6 leadership mindsets provide guidance on how people can better comprehend and reorganize their own portfolios (mindsets as well as teams) to become successful:

  1. Antisocial
  2. Individualist
  3. Timeserver
  4. Extrovert
  5. Initiator
  6. Achiever

Let’s take a detailed view of the first 3 mindsets.


The leaders with Antisocial mindset have no regard for anyone except themselves.  They exhibit characteristics related to antisocial personality disorder, i.e. lack of compassion and insensibility towards others.  They have a captivating personality and are highly effective at manipulating others and the organization.  Antisocial personalities can destroy their own and their organization’s reputation by their manipulative behavior.

The individuals with Antisocial mindset display an avid interest in authority, have superiority complex, and consider themselves above the rules.  They exist at any level in an organization—e.g., coldblooded bosses who discount others but use them for their own advantage by intimidation and deceit.  Their deception gets them promoted, but only transiently.  Such personalities have low values and it’s hard to cooperate with them.


The leaders with an Individualist dominant mindset always keep their own personal interests first, benefit themselves, and don’t bother about others.  They are possessed by a strong desire for power, wealth, and status.  Self-promotion rather than exhibiting behaviors benefiting a team is a hallmark of such mindset.  These erratic, self-publicist mentalities in top management can wreck the organizational culture—as they prompt the others to take influence from their behavior—weaken collective action, hinder information flow, and destroy teams.

The drive and self-focus of leaders with a strong Individualist mindset can enable them to get ahead, but they often struggle to build a team, as they do little to develop others and try to take all the credit.  To counter the Individualist mindset, organizations need to outline goals clearly, monitor performance, and ensure that individual goals are consistent with enterprise goals.


The individuals with a Timeserver or opportunist mindset try to please everyone and in doing so lose credibility among their peers.  They keep changing with differing circumstances and groups of people they interact with.  The individuals with this mindset are insecure, indecisive, and lack influence on people, yet long to be venerated and strive to cajole people in authority to advance their careers.

Timeservers have a hard time communicating their longstanding beliefs and lack passion in anything they do.  If such personalities are made responsible to manage a project, their biggest concern is to make their superiors happy and their incompetence to stand up for their thoughts against any opposition leads the initiative to failure.  Timeservers serve anyone who is important, even budding leaders.

Interested in learning more about all 6 leadership mindsets and the ideal leadership profile mix?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on the 6 Leadership Mindsets here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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