As children we all grew up with our heroes that we looked up to. They may have been fictional, tied to a career (like a fire fighter or doctor), or an actual person. We wanted to make a difference, to lead. At some point we all asked ourselves (and often still do), “Can that be me?”
Sadly, the answer that question is often a dejected “no.” For whatever reason, many of us think or feel that the image we see in the mirror can never be the image we have created of a leader. There can be many reasons for this but I want to address just one, because the fact is that we are all called to greatness and to lead ourselves and one another. We all have an impact to make.
Many people have a very specific image of what a leader is and how a leader behaves. And sometimes we don’t fit that mold. The most common leadership image is the authoritative, commanding presence who is decisive and always pushing to take action. Some people look at that type of leader and realize that it just isn’t who they are. That is a great insight, but doesn’t mean that leadership is therefore off the table. Everyone is called to lead.
There are many different ways to categorize a persons character or “personality type.” While these sorts of assesments are often in nature or application rather shallow, I think all of them have something to offer if understood properly. I am going to look at leadership through the lense of the 4 classic temperaments (choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, and melancholic) to show that regardless of what “kind of person” you are, you can be a leader.
The Choleric Leader: These people are who most of us think of when we think of leaders. They are very action oriented and responsive. They tend to be highly driven, analytical, and don’t mind stepping up and taking charge. Leaders who exhibit choleric tendencies are Bill Gates, Donald Trump, and Julius Cesar.
The Sanguine Leader: People who have a sanguine personality tend to be very energetic, optimistic, and social. Their energy level often results in moving quickly from one thing to the next. They are often very people oriented and motivated, and are often very creative. Leaders who exhibit sanguine tendencies are Bill Clinton, Robin Williams, and Larry Ellison.
The Melancholic Leader: Melancholic people tend to be very reflective and thoughtful. They are very process oriented and don’t usually try new things unless a strong case can be made for it. They tend to be very detail oriented and hold very high standards. Leaders who exhibit melancholic tendencies are Warren Buffet and Beethoven.
The Phlegmatic Leader: Those who have a phlegmatic temperament are often more reserved but still overall people oriented. They are usually very calm and can even seem indifferent. They tend to be harmonizers because they are able to get along with a wide range of people easily. They are rarely quick to act but usually have a very thought out reason for whatever action they do take. Leaders who exhibit phlegmatic tendencies are Calvin Coolidge and Tim Duncan.
As you can see, you can be a leader regardless of what “type” of person you are. Your unique personality and character give you strength. Understanding your personality can help you know which paths to take and see the leader that you can become.