A different look at leadership in training

“A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” – John Maxwell


Leaders are the backbones of our society. Imagine a society where there is no person to lead – it would be a place filled with followers who lose their original objective of following. We are privy to the most basic forms of leadership like the authoritative style, the autocratic style, the democratic style and so on. However, let us look at leadership in training in an easier way – creating, for all intents and purposes, a new method of presentation of leadership styles in training. Let us now refer to a research paper presented by Paul B. Thornton, Professor, Business Administration, Springfield Technical Community College, USA. This paper uses a different approach to determine the types of leaders in every society. As every other paper, this one isn’t void of error. However, it does look at an interesting phenomenon in an even more interesting way.


Types of leaders:


  1. Thought Leaders: Thought leaders possess the power to make change through ideas. For generations, people have been fascinated by new ideas. This isn’t really surprising as the want to ideate is in our DNA and it is only natural to crave for ideation. Thought leaders communicate with their followers by promising creation and implementation of new ideas which ultimately becomes their selling point. In a training set-up, they require the utmost creative control of their sessions both with content as well as presentation. Also, thought leaders often either fail or they succeed – there is no concept of being ‘average’ here.

Examples– Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Dr. W. Edwards Deming


  1. Courageous Leaders: Courageous leaders stick to the morals and values that they believe in, come what may. Their opinions or methodologies do not waver even in times of considerable risks & hardships. They have a vision and they want to pursue it. In a training set-up, courageous leaders can come-off as stubborn and arrogant but display a high level of consistency.

Examples – Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Coleen Rowley


  1. Inspirational Leaders: These leaders focus on their connection with the public/audience. Their passion is what drives them to promote change and maintain positivity in practice. They are committed to their beliefs which make the public emotionally attached to them. They are motivators of the highest grade and help improve relationships with people. The most important thing in a training room for a trainer is to connect with his/her trainees and inspirational leaders have mastered this art form. By connecting with the trainees, the message intended to be communicated is easily decoded.

Examples – Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., Pat Summit


  1. Servant Leaders: Servant leaders, as the name suggests, are prime helpers. They frequently ask the question – “How can I help?” and are always looking to identify and meet the needs of others rather than to acquire power, wealth and fame for themselves. Servant leaders are often found wanting under circumstances where assertion of authority is required. They are generally timid and seek to avoid confrontation. Servant leader-trainers will be admired and appreciated by trainees due to their selfless nature. However, trainees do tend to identify the weaknesses of servant leader-trainers to gain the upper hand in the classroom.

Examples – Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey, Max DePree


No two leadership styles are the same; every person has their own unique style of communicating with their followers/subordinates which suits their own strengths and weaknesses. Be it thought leaders, courageous leaders, inspirational leaders or servant leaders, the idea is constant – to get the message across.


–         Naresh Mulkunte


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