Mature Head leaders are the masters of intellectual leadership. Using their quick wits and outstanding cognitive abilities, they can find optimal solutions to complex problems while educating and mentoring their followers. Immature leaders may struggle to master their thoughts and may resort to haphazard actions to avoid having to think things through.

“The most important quality of leadership is intellectual honesty. The reality principle –the ability to see the world as it really is, not as you wish it were.” – Jack Welch. 

Head leaders represent the voice of reason in leadership. They predicate their leadership upon analytical thinking and logic. Heart leaders may struggle with establishing their leadership identities. Identity is not a problem for Head leaders. They know who they are and understand how they want to lead. They love to use their analytic skills to get things done.

Head leaders are the voices of reason and logic. 

According to the Map of Leadership Maturity, three leader types prefer intellectual leadership: Thinkers, Disciples, and Activists. As Head leaders, these three types of leaders share several traits.

  • They all rely on analytical thinking and strategic planning.
  • Head leaders are skilled problem-solvers with a knack for breaking down complex tasks into manageable bite-size chunks.
  • They exercise critical judgment as the centerpiece of their intellectual leadership.
  • Head leaders have an intellectual curiosity that allows them to understand new concepts and be outstanding change leaders.
  • Careful planning and execution are two other hallmarks of head leaders.
  • Head leaders focus on clear, concise, and data-driven communication.
  • Their methodical approach to leadership and problem-solving makes Head leaders predictable and effective.

“Critical thinking and curiosity are the keys to creativity.” – Amala Akkineni. 

Due to their critical thinking abilities and intellectual curiosity, Head leaders tend to appreciate innovation and improvement.

No leadership style fits perfectly into the categories the Map of Leadership Maturity defines. But leaders do exhibit predominant traits that place them in one category or another.

The Strengths and Challenges of Head Leaders

Leadership maturity plays a significant role in determining the strengths and weaknesses of leaders, and Head leaders are no exception. Mature Head leaders know who they are, what they want from leadership, and what they can get out of it. Leadership coaching aims to improve leaders’ maturity level, thereby maximizing their strengths and enabling them to manage their weaknesses.

Less mature Head leaders may have insecurity-related problems. Insecurity is the Achilles’ heel of Head leaders and the most significant hurdle for immature leaders to overcome.

When facing insecurities, Thinkers tend to retreat to their personal intellectual safe spaces. The job of a leadership coaching professional is to get such leaders to accept that they can’t control everything and learn to lead without micromanaging and controlling everyone.

Unlike Thinkers, Disciples are quick to relinquish control when facing their insecurities. They gain solace in the presence and assistance of an entity they accept as authoritative.

Activists react to their insecurities by throwing themselves into unproductive activities. They tend to be so busy that their days never seem to have enough hours to allow them to accomplish all their goals.

keep busy

Activists like to keep busy. 

A Detailed Look at Each Head Leader Type

Cognitive abilities define how Head leaders interact with others and exercise their leadership.


Thinkers possess strong cognitive skills that enable them to engage in deep intellectual conversations. From an executive coaching perspective, such leaders are capable of detailed critical analysis. They can shed light on issues from many different angles and solve problems creatively.

Immature Thinkers may find it difficult or impossible to build meaningful relationships and deep connections with others. By focusing solely on analytics and logic, they may alienate their employees and miss opportunities to engage and empower them.

Thinkers’ communication skills are strong but lack a personal touch. Thinker leaders communicate precisely and clearly. And they have no problems structuring their arguments. They may struggle to show empathy, however, and may lack the skills to address emotional matters.

Logic and rationality guide Thinkers’ interactions. Thinkers are great at intellectual discussions and value well-structured arguments from their interlocutors. Since they struggle with emotional connections, they may find social settings daunting and somewhat adverse to their style of interaction.


Disciples value learning and build their leadership around continuous improvement. At their most mature, they create learning-focused cultures that benefit their organizations and employees. Their cognitive abilities allow these leaders to break down and make sense of complex concepts for themselves and others.

Immature Disciples over-share information and constantly lecture others. Executive coaching encourages such leaders to focus on active listening skills to balance their didactic proclivities.

Communication-wise, Disciples are usually successful leaders. They convey their ideas clearly and have a knack for explaining complex concepts. Immature Disciples may focus too much on sharing information and may fail to engage their interlocutors on a human level.

From the perspective of intellectual leadership, Disciples are great educators and mentors. Business coaching professionals love such leaders, as they are naturally inclined to coach and mentor, creating comprehensive coaching-focused cultures in their organizations.


Mature activists find solutions and act on them. They make things happen. They appreciate practicality and value intellectual conversations as long as they lead to practical, actionable results.


Head leaders rely on cognitive skills in their interactions. 

Immature activists are quick to act and less likely to engage in reflective thinking. Their brand of intellectual leadership may, therefore, come across as headlong and haphazard. Business coaching can encourage these leaders to focus more on introspection and deep analysis involving alternative perspectives.

Mature Activists communicate their ideas clearly, focusing on practical steps and actionable plans. To ensure optimal decision-making, they may request input from others regularly.

Their action-oriented nature defines how they interact with others. Activists appreciate solutions and results and tend to avoid complicating issues and dithering when facing multiple choices.

Head leaders personify the power of intellectual leadership. However, immaturity can turn these leaders’ thoughts from strengths into weaknesses. Some Head leaders may withdraw into their minds, overanalyzing everything. Others may grow to trust others more than themselves. Still, others turn outward instead of striking a balance between their thoughts and actions and become overly reliant on the latter.

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