Personal Finance

How your leadership style impacts your finances

“Change is inevitable. Growth is intentional.” – Glenda Cloud

A few weeks ago, I was taking a course and one of the assignments centered around Susan Sayer’s research into leadership styles. Sayers speculated that people could be broadly divided into four groups depending on which quadrant of the “behavioral matrix” they fell into Controllers, Promoters, Analyzers or Supporters. The assignment challenged us to identify our primary and secondary leadership styles and then to work in groups to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of our dominant style and consider how they might help and hinder our journey to financial freedom.

For me, the exercise reinforced some things that I already knew and gave me plenty of new information to consider. Being challenged to think specifically about how my own leadership style was impacting my financial journey was an interesting twist because until then I had associated leadership skills more with workplace success than financial success. As I went through the exercise though, it quickly became very clear to me that while there are a lot of positives to my leadership style, there are also some areas where, if I’m not careful, I could trip myself up!

In this week’s post, I thought I’d share some information about each of Saye’s leadership styles and how each one can help (and hinder) our path to financial success:


Controllers are the natural leaders in the pack. They tend to be entrepreneurial and very goal-orientated. Their strong work ethic and drive to get things done means that they’re great people to have on your team, especially if you’re in a crunch. However, their drive for perfection and their often unrealistic expectations of others can make them difficult to get along with.

Controllers are great innovators and creative thinkers and so they have no problems when it comes to identifying financial goals and putting plans in place to get them to their goal. They are driven to achieve their goals, which allows them to be successful. However, they also tend to be independent workers who don’t enjoy taking direction from others which can be challenging when they’re working on shared goals with a partner. Controllers are also impatient to see results which means that they often have a hard time with the long-term nature of many financial goals.


Promoters stand out from the crowd partly because their naturally outgoing personality attracts others to them and partly because their sense of style demands attention. Stylish and social, Promoters are great networkers with strong interpersonal skills and they are fun to be around which means that they tend to do very well in a sales role. However, their materialistic nature and attraction to “stuff” can often get in their way when it comes to finances.

Promoters tend to be spenders which makes it hard for them to save. Their image-conscious nature and desire to keep up with the latest trends and styles can lead to an accumulation of consumer debt which gets in the way of their financial stability. Additionally, the Promoter’s zest for life can often lead to them focussing more on the “right here right now” than the future which can result in them playing “catch up” on their retirement savings in the years coming up to retirement.


Analyzers are the thinkers of the leadership world. They are very logical and, as the name suggests, they carefully weigh up the pros and cons of a situation before making a decision. While they are often too introverted and cautious to make strong leaders, they are the glue that holds a team together and a great balance for the more impulsive Promoters.

Financially, Analyzers tend to be great savers but their natural aversion to risk means that they can be quite conservative with their investments. Analyzers also have a great fear of the unknown which can make it hard for them to spend money on things they consider “unnecessary” or frivolous.


As the name suggests, Supporters are the cheerleaders of the leadership world. They are the morale boosters and the credit givers who endeavor always to encourage and affirm the people around them. Supporters would much rather be a team member than a team leader; they like to blend into the crowd and to shine the spotlight on others rather than themselves.

Financially, Supporters often fall short of their goals because their natural tendency is to put others before themselves. They will willingly sacrifice their own savings in order to fund the needs and wants of those they care about which can often lead to low savings rates and higher levels of debt. However, if they can find a motivation to save which fits with their altruistic nature, supporters can be very successful at building wealth.

For a long time, I’ve been driven by the idea that the more I understand myself the better equipped I am to set the right goals and achieve them. Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve come to believe that success boils down to playing to your strengths, anticipating obstacles and not being afraid to take advantage of the opportunities that show up when you least expect them.

For me, learning about these four leadership styles not only helped affirm where my strengths lie but also showed me how I could sabotage myself without realizing it. Being able to anticipate where I might trip myself up, helps me figure out how to overcome those challenges and takes me several steps closer to achieving my goals. I hope that it’s useful for you too!

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