The Five Leadership Languages

The 5 leadership languages: which is your style? #KeepADvAncingTogether Tweet This

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On August 31, Becky Brasfield was a featured speaker at a BMO Harris executive roundtable luncheon on diversity, equity and inclusion. As a Leadership Fellow with ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, she shared her perspective on the connection between disability and leadership—including her observations on the Five Languages of Leadership, excerpted here.

The Five Leadership Languages are the different ways we communicate our leadership style—and knowing your primary language can help you maximize your leadership goals.

Inspired by the “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, these Leadership Languages are not mutually exclusive, and may overlap. Understanding the range of ways we communicate our leadership ability helps us identify how we differ in our individual style of being leaders.

What are the Five Leadership Languages?

1. Speech and Talk leadership. Using language and different forms of communication (speech, written, braille, sign, media, art, etc.) to advance your goal or mission in leadership.

Examples: Giving speeches; providing direction to others; sharing your vision or mission; giving feedback on evaluations to motivate the performance of others; creating a symbol of your vision.

2. Doing and Action leadership. Taking action steps to “get things done” and “make things happen.”

Examples: Editing a document when you notice errors; identifying a problem with service and correcting the problem; noticing delays in performance and stepping in to do whatever work is needed to get the team on schedule.

3. Time and Attention leadership. Being present, listening to concerns, showing up for others.

Examples: Recognizing work anniversaries, important accomplishments and milestones with recognition; calling someone or attending a funeral to give your condolences when a loved one passes away; taking the time to listen to complaints from a customer or staff member.

Learning the Five Leadership Languages helps us recognize exceptional leaders, who often maximize all five. Although some may come more naturally to each of us, they can all be learned and improved.

4. Results leadership. Affirming high quality performance, and successfully meeting controllable objectives—not necessarily outcomes, which often we cannot control.

Examples: Putting in a certain number of hours on a project each week; providing a client with a variety of tangible options; submitting a high quality proposal on time; making a certain number of sales calls per week to meet your goal.

5. Modeling leadership. Being a living example of characteristics such as trust, integrity, honesty, reliability, accountability and fairness.

Examples: Keeping your word or informing others in advance when you cannot keep commitments; communicating your professional role honestly without exaggerating your capacity; being honest but prudent in your business negotiations; holding all staff accountable in a fair way that builds trust.

Learning the Five Leadership Languages helps us recognize exceptional leaders, who often maximize all five of these languages. And, although some may come more naturally to each of us, they can all be learned and improved.


In 2015, Becky Brasfield was selected as one of 16 inaugural Leadership Fellows through ADA 25 Advancing Leadership—competitively selected emerging leaders from all walks of life and with diverse disabilities who unite for an immersive, transformative experience exploring their leadership skills.

ADA 25 Advancing Leadership announced its second class of Leadership Fellows at the second annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit on October 21, 2016.