Written by my wife: Sara Turner
If you’ve ever worked in a corporate environment or in any collaborative environment, you’ve probably heard of the Meyers-Briggs personality test, or DISC, or [insert any personality/leadership assessment here]. It’s a widely used tool that gives reason and meaning to why you, the individual taking the assessment, behave and communicate the way that you do. Are you more feelings based? Do details matter? Are you team focused or self-focused?
All these tests/assessments reveal bits and pieces of ourselves that allow the assessor, or the coach, to help the collective “get along.” These tests are taken to give insight into how a team can cohesively work together by understanding the individuals in the collective on a deeper level. It helps the feelings based individual understand that the logic based individual means no harm; they’re just divulging the necessary information, not being curt.
Although each assessment has their benefits, we found one that we felt most connected to. One that had a foundational structure that was waiting for us to build on.
The Social Styles. The concept of the 4 different personality styles was first published in 1981 by David W. Merrill and Roger H. Reid. They came up with the concept that some people are task focused (assertive) and some are people focused (responsive). Shortly after Dorthy and Robert Bolton, in 1984, published their research touching on the same concepts calling them the social styles. They created the social styles assessment so that people could identify what style they fell into.
We were inspired by this research but found gaps we wanted to address.
When we sat down and took a look at the work Rachel was currently doing, mixed with my research, we decided we wanted to explore a new kind of assessment—one that yes, looked at leadership, but really brought in the humanity of entrepreneurship beyond a result from a quiz. We saw tracks back to childhood trauma in how those responses develop parts of the leadership design profile. We also saw there were gaps in the current research that didn’t make sense for who our clients were in their whole humanness and how we were helping them elevate their message in the online business space.
Intersectionality (term coined by Kimberlee Crenshaw) was not taken into consideration within the current limited iteration of the social styles research, nor any other assessment we sought out – which we saw as problematic. Honoring the whole human is what leadership is all about – at least what our definition of leadership is. It’s not transactional, but transformational – the leader’s ability to see and honor the lived experience of others, seeing the value each individual brings, acknowledge privilege, meeting others in their unique process, and allow humanness to exist.
SO, we developed our own extensive research on top of the foundation our predecessors provided.
The Leadership Designs
We use the leadership designs as a lens through which we look at how people
- Exist in their business
- Manage their energy
- Design offers
- Understand others
- Write ethical copy
- Lead with integrity
Understanding your leadership design gives you a baseline of how you can move best in your business without reaching burnout or feeling like you’re doing it wrong. It’s a way to honor yourself in your humanness, and do the same for others.
Leadership is a learned skill, and learning more about the way you best will help you bring more you-ness into your business. Learning how to best lead yourself – honoring your energies, your capacities, your core values, and goals – will result in leading those who come to you with greater understanding that there’s no one size fits all way.
Our leadership designs take into consideration the whole human. What you’ve experienced in your life. How your energy flows. Who you are at your core and how
So without further ado, here is an introduction to what we call the Leadership Designs.
Core Need: Validation
Visionaries are the wild card of the business space. The “rules” that you see being promoted in the business space don’t apply to you. And not in the way that you are the exception to the rule, it’s just that what has been normalized doesn’t work with you and your process.
You’re high risk takers. You don’t like to be told what to do. Being confined to parameters around what you can do in your business feels suffocating – certainly not the way you’ve envisioned your art to exist in the world. You bleed color and make it a priority to leave space for play and fun and big ideas and big feelings.
When you want to do something, you’re all in. Sign up for a coach, HELL YES. Start a new offer, RIGHT NOW.
In the way you work, you may notice you don’t enjoy having a traditional product suite because your ideas are always changing, this can often elicit the feeling that you’re doing something wrong, or can’t get your shit together. Your shit is just fine, someone with your design profile may instead prefer one main offer to support more pop up ideas throughout the year.
You may not be the person who’s planning Q1, or any of the Q’s either—and honestly, this is fine. You plan with your energy waves before anything else.
A unique characteristic of the Visionary is that you experience energy waves – you have high highs and low lows.
In your highs, things feel effortless. You have 27 ideas pop into your mind and you want to do all of them. You can oftentimes get more done in 3 hours than most people can in 1 week. In your highs, when you’re talking about your offer or creating your art, it explodes out of you. The people watching you talk or create about your thing soak it in, hanging on every word. Your energy acts like a magnet drawing people towards you like gnats to a light or lint to your leggings.
You enjoy being the center of attention, seeing as your core need is validation. The stories you tell are captivating, not just because your life is interesting, but you can make drinking a cup of coffee the most epic adventure or a beautiful love story. You often hear others tell you they “love your energy” or “love being in your space.” (Side bar: this does not mean you’re an extrovert Visionaries can be introverts and most of them are). Although people love your flamboyance, it can leave people feeling confused and unclear.
In your lows, you may feel unmotivated to do much of anything. Business feels hard. Creativity feels out of reach. It’s important to know that you can’t avoid the lows – they’re inevitable. In your low periods, it’s important to honor it as much as you possibly can based on the privileges you do or don’t hold. This means rest. It means watch tv. It means honoring your absolute needs in your business and leaving the rest.
When you’re in a more reactive space, you can be a bit dramatic, overly emotional, exaggerate, and can be unpredictable. Another indication that you may be in a more reactive space is that you’ll have so many ideas, it becomes difficult to anchor in one thing – or even how you’re feeling emotionally.
Each Visionary is unique and will experience these energy waves differently. Some are more extreme than others. Some experience feeling sick while in a low and some may just feel tired. Some may feel like they want to quit their business and some may feel business is hard and don’t want to show their face or write a post that day.
Most coaches, programs, and things in the business world will speak to everyone but you. You may find yourself in your lows signing up for things that speak to a more analytical nature because you want something to work—you don’t have to leave yourself to make your business work. It may feel like it in moments, but I promise business can be done your way.
Things to remember:
- You aren’t lazy
- You aren’t doing business wrong
- You can be successful without changing who you are
Core Need: Being Right
Traditional business practices were created through the Analyst lens. Meaning, you enjoy planning each quarter ahead of time; like to plan content week by week, post by post; have as much knowledge as possible in order to coach/educate/mentor people to the best of your ability; write educational based copy to give “value” to your audience; have color coded launch plans for your offerings and 2025 goals.
You’re a low risk taker – calculated in every decision you make and word you write. It’s important for you to feel safe in your knowledge, knowing that the path is clear and makes logical sense. You’re usually the one out of your friend group that does all the planning and makes the itinerary. Structure and order allows your brain and body to function in a way that feels safe. Little emphasis is placed on emotion, not because you don’t care about them, but because logical reasoning makes more sense in your forward motion.
Your process is slow because you need to know all the information before making a decision – which option is going to be the most beneficial, the one that makes the most sense?
Asking questions is how you learn. It’s how to fill in the gaps when your path doesn’t quite add up. You want to know what to expect because surprises, particularly in business, make you uncomfortable. Your curiosity may feel off-putting to some, but it’s how you learn best and begin to understand yourself and the world around you.
You enjoy being the person people refer to for a greater understanding. You enjoy teaching others and equipping them with knowledge and tools and a process.
You have an innate ability to help people see the path clearly. There is no confusion when you’re explaining something. It’s clear and well thought out. When it comes to relating to your audience, people appreciate the way you slow things down and carefully explain. However, when you provide too much information in one sitting, this can lead to over explanation and overwhelm your audience.
It’s important to remember analyst, that while you need all the information and steps to process, your clients won’t always. So as you enroll folks, and create new offers, make sure you’re asking yourself “do I need this, or does this make sense for who’s in front of me too?”
You can have perfectionist tendencies because of your core need to be right. When you look at things, the way you lead, as right or wrong, you tend to go into a shame spiral.
When you’re in a more anchored place, you’re confident in your ideas, your path, and don’t usually seek validation of rightness from an outside source. When you’re in a more reactive space, you’re asking everyone else what you think you should do, you over analyze and experience paralysis by analysis, and can be snarky and sarcastic if someone questions your knowledge or process.
Each analyst will experience these behaviors and patterns differently. These tendencies are the baseline and don’t fully yet take into account the lived experiences of the individual.
Things to remember:
- You’re not doing it wrong
- You’re allowed to take your time and ask the questions
- The strong urge to get it right may be telling you an emotion that needs to be explored
Core Need: Control
You often take up the space you are given and/or create the space for your voice to be heard. You’re a high risk taker, which means taking “messy” action comes as second nature. You speak with conviction. You’re highly assertive. People want to have you in their corner.
Your need for control manifests in your sense of autonomy. As soon as your choice, the ability to make you own decisions and do what you want, gets taken away from you – you become resentful. You’ve always figured it out on your own and know what works for you.
You seek to be in a position of authority. You shine when it comes to delegation and meeting a deadline. Because you value autonomy so highly and are highly motivated to achieve, you expect/value that in others.
Seeing the end goal is really easy for you. Conductors are task oriented people and like to know what’s on the horizon – always asking “what’s next?”. Not one to tell stories, or really have the attention span to listen to one.
You naturally take the lead on project management. The details don’t matter to you, only the results of the end product. You know the “chunks” that need to be done, but minute details are not for you.
Emotion is not at the forefront of your mind. Sometimes you can come across as cold or curt because of this. It’s certainly not your intention, you’re simply focused on the tasks that need to be completed for the project.
Because Conductors like to be in positions of authority, they often express liking to work with beginners. However, you have a low tolerance for ignorance.
This also goes for your personal relationships. You prefer partners and friends who can “keep up.”
In a more reactive space, you tend to place the blame on others and use shame to keep yourself in a space of authority. When you’re in a more responsive, more anchored, space you’re not comparing yourself to peers or feeling a sense of urgency to defend yourself or share a “polarizing” opinion.
In enrollments, and offer creation you can really maintain any king of plan—a launch, open enrollment, pop ups etc. However when it comes to the kind of work you do, we suggest avoiding groups, as Conductors like space and not feeling needed.
You have an uncanny ability to read a paragraph from a book, listen to 5 minutes of a podcast, or watch 3 minutes of a Ted Talk and teach a 4 hour seminar or build and entire 6 month course from it. It’s impressive what you can accomplish and how to always manage to get it done. If you say you’re going to do something, you bet your ass it’s gonna happen.
Each Conductor will see these behaviors in some way. Some are more extreme than others, and that’s okay. Everyone is different and handles stress, anxiety, and the things happening in your life differently.
(disclaimer, Conductors aren’t assholes. They sound cold and curt but can be some of the most compassionate people you’ll ever meet based on their lived experience and healing work they’ve done).
Things to remember:
1. You aren’t as asshole for being assertive in what you need
2. Some folks don’t process as quickly as you do and that’s okay
3. Leave space for you to feel every once in a while
Core Need: Security
You’re gentle and warm and compassionate. Your need for security manifests as a need for emotional safety. People enjoy being around you because you hold space for them to exist as they are, free of judgement. Because you seek emotional safety in the presence of others, you try to offer that same feelings for the humans that come in contact with you.
You often identify yourself as the caretaker of your friend group or family. Making sure everyone gets home safely from a night out or that everyone is comfortable with their fav pillow during movie night.
You’re the support specialist. You’re always asking, “how can I support you?” Sometimes this can lead to you detriment because it’s challenging for you to be assertive and set boundaries. Giving so much of yourself to others can leave you emotionally exhausted causing a breakdown at least once every 3 months.
You’re low risk takers because you need to sit with your feelings for a while before taking actions on them. You are deeply intuitive, but want to make sure you’ll feel as held in your process now and 6 months from now.
In enrollments, or offers, you prefer things to go slow and intentional. You shy away from things that move fast, and cold because you want connection and that deep sense of security both to your clients and your clients to you.
Because you take great care in holding other’s feelings, it can be difficult to be direct, which can make pitching your offer, or talking about it all feel really challenging. When you’re trying to “lessen the blow” and make things feel more gentle, it can confuse people. This goes with messaging in your business and telling your partner/friends/family how you’re feeling.
Nurturers can exhibit people pleasing tendencies because of their need to be in a support role. This can leave them feeling disconnected from themselves and from others. As Brene Brown says, “clear is kind and unclear is unkind.”
You may begin to over create for your people. For instance, a client may mention boundary work once and you create a whole PDF teaching them how to create stronger boundaries even though they didn’t need it. Over creating blankets for people may leave them sweaty and uncomfortable.
You do well with a plan because having a clear path feels supportive for you. Winging it is not in your nature. Having notes or talking points or written down ideas helps you keep on track and stay succinct.
You often find yourself in helping professions because of you attention to care. You’re loyal and patient with others.
When you’re in a reactive space, you typically disengage. You prefer not to engage in conflict and would rather not than try to resolve – hoping that it just goes away eventually. You may feel yourself `needing to manage other people emotions to dissolve the situation. This could look like agreeing even though you don’t, not sticking up for yourself, and/or feeling anxious that a relationship is ending.
When you feel more anchored, you’re open about how you’re feeling – resulting in greater connection with your people. You’re choosing yourself more times than not. You’re more clear in your messaging and communication.
Each Nurturer is going to experience these tendencies and behaviors differently. Depending on the self-work you’ve done and the supports you have in your life will play a role in how you relate to yourself and others.
Things to remember:
1. You aren’t responsible for other people’s emotions
2. You don’t have to make fast decisions
3. You can be successful in business while honoring your gentleness
How does each leadership design intersect with each other?
People aren’t just one thing. You are many things and the many things make up your experience and behaviors. Therefore, everyone has a primary and secondary leadership design. Your primary design is typically the one that you default to the majority of the time. And your secondary can be flexed in your coping skills, when you feel reactive, in moments when you feel out of control, or in moments of emotional processing/critical thinking.
The combinations of the leadership designs will look differently for everyone depending on how strongly each design reflects on your behaviors. It also strongly depends on your lived experience, how much privilege you hold in the spaces you occupy, what your financial situation is, and whether or not you identify within a marginalized community and what that means for your visibility and safety.
Here’s how each design intersects each other…
- High risk taker and low risk taker
- Big ideas and big feelings
- Compassionate and kind, super animated and magnetic, witty and grounded
- Enrolling clients can feel overwhelming because you both want space, and want to be near people. A longer enrollment process might support your need to rest, and connect.
- Visionaries inevitably ghost, so building in rest cna feel really supportive
- Works best with 1:1 clients, group programs, and communities
- Visionaries love an audience while the Nurturer loves to create safety and warmth with a group of people
- Visionary may be in a low and not honor that because Nurturer wants to show up for their people
- Clarity can feel extra hard because it can feel uncomfortable to be direct in your ask
- Others may feel confused because of you lack of clarity, but safe in your ability to hold space
- High risk takers = ACTION
- Creative and driven
- When you have an idea, you want to sell it ASAP. When you don’t like an idea anymore, you’re done, done.
- If your Visionary committed to something in a high but doesn’t want to do it anymore, your Conductor has the ability to follow through
- Works best with 1:1 clients or small, intentional group programs
- You prefer clients who have been in business for a while and have a high level of resilience
- You don’t like to be needed – which is why beginners feel difficult to work with
- Spontaneous and assertive, making decisions very quickly – you know what you want
- Task focused and emotion focused – you have an outline of structure that still allows for a creative outlet
- Big picture people
- When in a low as a Visionary, your Conductor wants to power through, which are conflicting things your body is telling you
- The Conductor loves to work, where as the Visionary loves to play
- You may struggle to be compassionate towards others when feeling reactive
- High risk taker and low risk taker
- Highly creative and hyper analytical
- Longer enrollment period for you, too, to give the Visionary time to rest and the Analyst time to plan
- Works best with 1:1 and small groups
- Having 1:1 clients gives Visionaries the steadiness they need to take a breath and the Analyst time to work with clients inside of a throughout process
- Visionaries love an audience while Analysts prefer to give folks a structured way to process information
- Anything that requires too much of you, Visionary, you begin to avoid, while the Analyst in you begins to feel overwhelmed, thinking that you’re not giving enough
- Can experience conflicting wants and needs because of their polarity in nature
- High emotions may be better managed because of your logical nature
- You may struggle with perfectionism which may overshadow your risk taking ability
- Or, you may struggle with the aftermath of your need to get it right after you take the risk
- Are able to put their big ideas into easily implementable pieces
- Create beautiful offerings that are exciting and clear
- High risk taker and low risk taker
- Deeply emotional and wants to get things done
- Enrollments can be short or long because of your ability to hold steady energy
- Works best with 1:1 clients, courses, and small group programs
- Your copy has a beautiful mix of conversation and education
- The ability to see people for where they are in their journey and help them move efficiently from one place to another
- Could feel conflicted when it comes to honoring the emotional aspect of business and humanity
- Nurturers want to hold where as Conductors want to give advice and tell
- If your primary is Nurturer, you have the ability to explain how people will be held with you while being very clear on what your offer is
- If your primary is Conductor, you’ll always be direct and succinct while also having the ability to hold beautiful space for emotional experiences
- Two low risk takers who love a slow process
- Prefers a longer enrollment period to leave time for planning and intentional connection
- Works best with 1:1 clients, course, groups, communities – you have the capacity to do it all
- You love high touch offers and being available for you clients
- Running groups and communities are easier because you enjoy connection and planning content/teaching
- Your copy is warm and clear but could lack assertiveness in your ask
- Can sometimes struggle to be clear and to the point when enrolling clients, and writing content.
- Emotional and structure driven
- You’re able to hold people in their emotions and help them have a structured, implementable approach
- You set the steps out clearly while also leaving room for the inevitable shifts that need to happen based on individual human experience
- You tend to make really beautiful content
- You’re precise and thoughtful
- You give people options and alternatives because you’re solution focused
- You may feel conflict when
- Low risk taker and high risk taker
- Could do short or long enrollments because no matter what, you can make a plan for the amount of time you have
- Works best with 1:1 clients, small group programs, and courses
- Has to be the right 1:1 clients because you don’t like to be needed
- Structure in your teaching keeps everyone on track
- Courses could work well because they can be hands off for the Conductor and easy to follow because of the Analyst
- There can be a tendency to overwhelm your audience by giving too much information at once
- Your copy is structured and education based
- Extremely process and task oriented
- In business can seem cold, and abrupt only because you default to logic on both sides of things, which can look like bro marketing for some when the conductor energy is high.
- Does well with a clear end goal and a structured plan to get there
- You may get caught up in the details of you analytical side, but feel pressured to figure it out now by your conductor side
- It’s easy for you to implement and educate your offerings
- It’s challenging to see and acknowledge the emotions of others, not because you are void of them, but because it’s not a high priority for you
- You thrive on efficiency and streamlined business practices
- People appreciate you for your ability to get things done no matter the circumstance
 Taking the lead is not the same as being a leader or leadership.