Do the following characteristics describe you?

  • Analysis–oriented
  • Facts/data driven
  • Value being knowledgeable
  • Thoughtful contributor
  • Logical, systematic thinker
  • Value credentials, experience
  • Thorough and detailed
  • Cautious decision maker
  • Always prepared, do your homework

If you said yes to most of these items, then you are probably an Analytical Leader (AL). The Analytical Leader (AL) is information and data driven. ALs pride themselves on possessing the knowledge, ability to think calmly in the face of crisis and not overreact. They listen and make thoughtful contributions.  For the AL what matters is expertise – credentials and experience.  They listen to people whose thinking they admire, who present information methodically, logically and systematically.  If you are an AL, you probably care more about thinking than you do about feelings.  Intuition, guesstimates and assumptions don’t appeal to you.  You like hearing about the research, facts and conclusions, and to feel comfortable your decisions must be based on data.

It is likely that you function best when there is a logical progression, rules, regulations, step-by-step instructions, and time to think things through.  For the AL, it is critical to examine an issue – its pros and cons, risks, downsides, upsides, and all which ways.

It is also likely that your AL style explains why you sometimes find dealing with others at work challenging. When a direct report comes to you and needs an immediate request, they are often met with some version of a “no” response from you.  ALs need time to think things through, and in the absence of time, find it safer to reject rather than accept a decision, proposal or idea.  There’s too much risk.  The problem is, of course, that your frequent “nos” can seem harsh and inflexible to others.  It doesn’t take long for people to figure out that rather than seeking permission it is easier to make an end run around you or not ask at all.

When Greg comes looking for help and support from his AL boss, he often ends up being disappointed. Hoping for feelings of empathy, Greg is met with an intellectual judgment. On the other hand, when he presents a problem and is seeking an answer, his AL boss is becomes stone silent.

In a crisis that requires quick, decisive action the AL appears the most vulnerable.  Direct reports, like Greg, look for direction and clarity. Instead they get a delayed response while the AL is weighing choices (evaluating facts, pondering options, and assessing risks).

ALs bring many important qualities to the leadership table, especially when their skills characterize the dominant culture of the organization, as it is often case in high tech, medical, research, architecture, and engineering settings.