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12 Leadership Styles of the Chinese Zodiac

By ILX Team | 16 February 2018

To celebrate this Chinese New Year of the Dog, we thought we'd put a Project Management twist on the animals of the zodiac, and match them to 12 different leadership styles! Which one are you?

The Rat (2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948) – Coaching Leadership

Rats are believed to have generally positive, outgoing outlooks, but can be fairly narrow-minded. A coaching leader will support others, but generally pay more attention to improving on their team’s weaknesses than maximising their strengths. This style of leadership is popular among teams, and Rats will thrive in environments where they can teach and motivate others.

The Ox (2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949) – Team Leadership

Those born in the Year of the Ox are considered to be persistent, straightforward and devoted. They move towards fixed goals, generally unaffected by changes in their surroundings, which can make them stubborn and unadaptable. Team leadership means moving as a unit towards a common goal, which is effective in uniting a team. This can however be let down by a lack of individual leadership.

The Tiger (2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950) – Charismatic Leadership

A charismatic leader uses their charm, personality and ideas to inspire others to follow them. Like charismatic leaders, Tigers are popular and empathetic, which can enable them to win the trust of others. Charismatic leaders like Winston Churchill have often inspired many to follow them, but – like the Tiger - they can be at risk of appearing arrogant and impatient.

The Rabbit (2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951) – Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is all about empowering teams in order to encourage change in businesses and people. The Rabbit is considered to be likeable and loyal, but is at risk of being too cautious in their decision-making. Transformational leaders should avoid this cautiousness when attempting to incite change to ensure they are fully supported by their team.

The Dragon (2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952) – Autocratic Leadership

Dragons, the only fictional animal of the zodiac, are known for their courage, brainpower and determination. This makes them very tenacious, but also considered arrogant and obstinate. Autocratic leaders are unflinching in their decision-making, and expect work to be done as they say, when they say it. While this is excellent in crises, it is too inflexible to promote a healthy leadership culture.

The Snake (2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953) – Visionary Leadership

Snakes are complex creatures, and generally perceived to be highly intelligent and creative. Visionary leadership inspires others through, as you may expect, clear visions of what the leader hopes to achieve. They are intuitive, like the Snake, and communicate well. However, without clear goals and challenges to inspire them, they will likely move on to find new problems to solve.

The Horse (2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954) – Democratic Leadership

Horses are considered to be very popular with others, and tend to use social skills like humour and affability to get others on board with their goals. Democratic leaders are all about people, and will consult with their teams to ensure they’ve taken all their opinions on board. They, however, make the final calls; those born in the Year of the Horse are usually not keen on taking directions. A lack of confidence in their own decision-making can make both Horses and democratic leaders hesitate too often.

The Sheep (2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955) – Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership is all about controlled planning and practicality – usually to influence change. Sheep (also known as Goats, or Rams) are reserved, deep thinkers. They tend to be wise and hard-working, but can also be considered indecisive. Sheep prefer to work in groups, and a strategic leader will usually distribute authority among other leaders in organisations. This style works best when planning long-term goals.

The Monkey (2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956) – Cross-Cultural Leadership

Cross-cultural leadership is an interesting style which involves merging different personalities and backgrounds (or cultures) together to foster team unity. This leader must therefore be highly skilled at adapting to others’ needs and new situations. Monkeys are thought to be just this: incredibly versatile as well as highly intelligent. They can be impatient, but their flexibility tends to make up for this.

The Rooster (2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957) – Facilitative Leadership

Those born in the Year of the Rooster are thought to be observant and hard-working. Facilitative leaders are characterised by their more reserved style i.e. the leader will only step in to give direction if the team appear to be going off track. For this, the Rooster’s keen, observational eye is essential, but they should take care not to become too passive.

The Dog (2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958) – Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership does not generally facilitate change, but instead maintains progress via an exchange system. By following orders as directed, the team receive immediate rewards. This maintains a status quo and keeps work moving. This leadership style is best suited for Dogs, as they are good-natured and satisfied with simple, quiet lives - surrounded by positive relationships. They’re very loyal, so are unlikely to be disruptive, but this leadership style will struggle to reach for new heights.

The Pig (2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959) – Laissez-Faire Leadership

Unfortunately, the laissez-faire method of transferring almost all authority to employees without leadership input is not usually recommended. Pigs are often characterised by laziness, which would lend better to laissez-faire leadership than others! On a more positive note, pigs are also considered to be responsible, independent and diligent – so if they do take a relaxed approach with leadership, they are not likely to carry this through into their own work.

Which leadership style did you get? If you felt it was scarily accurate, or completely not what you're about - let us know on our Facebook page, or by tweeting us @ILXGroup!

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