One challenge of leadership is being able to put yourself in the shoes of your employees. If you could see things from their perspective, would you like what you saw? Are the messages you’re sending the same messages received by your team? How do they see your leadership style?


A condition of lawlessness or political disorder brought about by the absence of governmental authority. — Source: CIA Factbook

The most common place I’ve seen anarchy in companies happens when a business grows beyond a single person. As a one-person company, you can do whatever you want. When you start adding people, it’s easy to let that carry through and let your employees do whatever they want.
Your employees want to know if they’re winning or losing. Avoid surprises and set your team up for success by clarifying the expectations up front. Take the time to establish the rules to play by at your company.

Anarchy Leadership
Image from V for Vendetta / © 2005 Warner Bros.

“You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it.” — Gordon Deitrich

Positive signs of an anarchy leadership type:

  • You can take a week off without worrying about what’s going on at work.
  • Your employees take the initiative beyond their normal job description.
  • Cross-functional teams simply work at your company.
  • You encourage solutions over getting hung up on who gets the glory for finishing a project.

Negative signs of an anarchy leadership type:

  • Your employees write their own job descriptions.
  • You wing it every time. There’s no documentation for your processes.
  • Your meetings fill up with people who don’t need to be there.
  • You let your team know about rules when they’ve broken one.


A union by compact or treaty between states, provinces, or territories, that creates a central government with limited powers; the constituent entities retain supreme authority over all matters except those delegated to the central government. — Source: CIA Factbook

As satellite offices and remote employees grow in popularity, slipping into a confederacy type of leadership is easy to do. Most of the time you may not even realize it. Are your different locations working together or fighting against each other to get stuff done?

Some companies work well with a single vision across all their locations, others thrive off the uniqueness of each office while some need both. As a leader, your job is to make a conscious decision about which will work best for your company.

Image from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl / © The Walt Disney Company

“The code is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” — Captain Barbosa

Positive signs of a confederacy leadership type:

  • You can quickly identify the best office to handle a project based on their strengths
  • Your different offices routinely engage in cross-team projects.
  • Your remote workers get included in most, or all, of your company events.
  • Your satellite offices might have their own core values, but they still fall in line with your overall company’s core values.

Negative signs of a confederacy leadership type:

  • Two or more of your teams have internal rules that directly oppose each other.
  • You act as the liaison for cross-team projects.
  • The only time your satellite offices interact is at your company’s town hall meetings.
  • You tend to overuse buzz words like “synergize” in every meeting because you don’t really know what the different locations do.


A government by or operating under an authoritative document (constitution) that sets forth the system of fundamental laws and principles that determines the nature, functions, and limits of that government. — Source: CIA Factbook

From the employee handbook to core values, there’s plenty of statements you use to help your team understand the rules and principles in your company. Of course, there will always be those times when they’re up for interpretation.

Clear and constant communication is key to helping everyone on your team stay on the same page. When it comes down to following the letter of the law or the spirit of the law, there shouldn’t be a surprise about the actions to take.

Civil War
Image from Captain America: Civil War / © 2016 The Walt Disney Company

“Once we put out the PR—they’re documents…They can be amended.” — Tony Stark

Positive signs of a constitutional leadership type:

  • You can ask any employee about your company’s values and mission statement—and get the right answers.
  • You can successfully use your core values to drive the major decisions of your business.
  • Your employees have mentioned using the principles they follow at work in their personal lives.
  • You can trust your people to make the right decisions when you’re not there.

Negative signs of a constitutional leadership type:

  • You’ve used core values as an excuse to let someone go that you don’t like.
  • Your employees have doubts about having a job when they come to work tomorrow.
  • When you explain what your core values are, no one believes you.
  • You feel like you need to check every decision your team makes against the core values for them.


A form of government in which a ruler or small clique wield absolute power (not restricted by a constitution or laws). — Source: CIA Factbook

In the business world, we have a different name for a dictatorship: Micromanagement. Unlike a true dictatorship, though, if you’re like most micromanagers, you probably don’t even realize you’re doing it.

When you don’t trust your team to get stuff done without your approval, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself some tough questions. Is the problem your team’s inability do something, or are they limited by you being the bottleneck?

Chaos and Order
Image from Avengers: Age of Ultron / © The Walt Disney Company

“Humans are odd. They think order and chaos are somehow opposites and try to control what won’t be.” — Vision

There are positive signs of a dictatorship leadership type? Sometimes:

  • You can make a decision for a project and trust your team to get it done without you.
  • Your team only comes to you for the high-level decisions.
  • You use your leadership status to help clear roadblocks for your team.
  • You know you’ve hired people smarter than you and they’re doing their best work each day.

Negative signs of a dictatorship leadership type:

  • You want to be CC’d on emails.
  • You love pointing out problems with the little details.
  • You often think you would’ve done a better job on a task if you had done it yourself.
  • Your employees are always waiting for approval from you.


A government in which the means of planning, producing, and distributing goods is controlled by a central government that theoretically seeks a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor; in actuality, most socialist governments have ended up being no more than dictatorships over workers by a ruling elite. — Source: CIA Factbook

Each day, you need to make decisions on a long list of things to move your business forward. Take the time to think through the impact—positive and negative—that each decision will have on your employees.

Keeping everyone’s best interests in mind is a noble pursuit. It’s a little less noble to provide free child care and a 24/7 chef for your employees so they have less of a reason to leave their desk.

Image from Equilibrium / ©2002 Miramax

“I can only hope one day to be as uncompromising as you.” — Andrew Brandt

Positive signs of a socialist leadership type:

  • Everyone in your company gets tangible benefits when the company does.
  • You can regularly predict or avoid fluctuations.
  • Everything is standardized, so if someone is out sick anyone else can fill in.
  • Your employees never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.

Negative signs of a socialist leadership type:

  • Everyone gets $20 gift cards to Starbucks for Christmas because personalized gifts would be showing favoritism.
  • Your perks are aimed at getting people to stay in the office longer.
  • You tell your employees you’re a flat organization, but really you just renamed “project managers” to “project champions.”
  • Every decision is design by committee.


Now it’s your turn

As we’ve looked at some pros and cons of each type of government, it’s time to reflect on your own leadership style. My challenge for you today is to ask yourself these three questions:

What type of leader do you see in yourself?

What type of leader do you want your employees to see in you?

Is there a mismatch in the type of leader you want to be and what your employees see?

Want my take on your answers to today’s challenge? Share them in the comments below and let’s chat. Prefer something a little more private?



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