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GPT Party 2.0. David Yang:5 Leadership Styles

In Silicon Valley, on October 7-8, GPT Party 2.0 took place, the largest Russian-language networking event dedicated to artificial intelligence. More than 300 people gathered at Plug and Play to meet with leading experts, entrepreneurs, and investors, discuss the latest trends in the field of artificial intelligence, and gain practical knowledge.

At the event, David Yang talked about five styles of informal leadership and shared the results of research that his team had conducted over the years.

“How would you explain why some companies achieve long-term success while others do not? For example, Kodak was a market leader, but a few years later, the company devalued by 200 times. Or another example: Apple released its first personal computer in 1976, then faced significant challenges in the 1990s, but despite that, it remains one of the most valuable, successful, and innovative companies in the world. Many would say that the leader of the company is both the cause of its success and its failures, but research shows that long-term leadership is a combination of conditions and is determined by the right balance of several leadership styles within one team. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about.

Here, I want to look at collaboration in work and team building from the perspective of informal leadership.

We identify five styles of informal leadership.

The first style is called Dominants, characterized by the hormone testosterone. These are goal-oriented, persistent, and determined individuals who are followed by others.

The second style is Innovators, defined by the dopamine reward circuit. They love breaking rules, taking risks, and seeking novelty.

Next is Integrators, influenced by the hormone oxytocin in nature. Oxytocin defines the boundary between “us” and “them” in a family setting. Oxytocin-driven individuals want everyone in the group to be well.

Then we have Protectors, who are shaped by the serotonin circuit. They are systematic individuals who love rules. They document everything, optimize processes, and organize regular actions.

Lastly, the fifth type, which we call Experts. Experts influence others through their professional expertise and are defined by a cocktail of hormones and mediators.”

“Each person is defined by a combination of these styles in varying proportions: some have one style strongly expressed, others have three, and there are people whose primary style stands out.

This is our internal makeup, which is largely determined by the construction of our bodies, but thanks to neuroplasticity, we can change the expression of these hormones and neurotransmitters if we want to. This typification is so fundamental that it exists in animals as well. We all know about the existence of worker bees and scout bees. It turns out that worker bees and scout bees are absolutely identical biological entities, but in scout bees, the dopamine reward system is more pronounced.

Research shows that a harmonious combination of several elements of informal leadership styles in one group statistically leads to long-term success.

How can this knowledge help us in business, knowing that different styles of informal leadership are present in our team? We once created a company called, which focused on studying and measuring the five informal leadership styles through internal communications within companies. With the permission of employees, we connected to their emails, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other communication channels. This allowed us to identify patterns inherent to the corresponding leadership styles, enabling individuals to learn about themselves and their colleagues. Subsequently, a leader could add employees with the leadership styles that were lacking in the company to their team. Interestingly, our neural network was able to predict employee resignations even before the employee made the decision to leave, but this was a byproduct of our system that helped prevent employee burnout. We eventually had to sell this company to our colleagues from Canada.

Let’s look at the histories of Apple and Kodak. I have the impression that John Sculley is a powerful Dominant. He confidently moved the company forward in the 1990s, but he lacked the dopamine element for innovation. Steve Jobs was obviously a Dominant and Innovator. He had a testosterone-driven nature, but at the same time, he parked in disabled parking spaces and did things against the rules. According to Tim Cook’s interviews, he appears to be a Protector-Integrator. This is someone who, in the late 1990s, began to establish work processes in the company. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, as Dominant-Innovator and Protector-Integrator, started working together and assembled a team of 15 people who effectively built the Apple company we know today. This phenomenon of harmoniously combining different styles of informal leadership is called collective intelligence.

The diagram below shows the communication network among people, where each point represents an individual. The diameter of the point corresponds to the number of messages they send, and the strength of the line indicates communication between individuals. Thicker lines represent more communication between these people. The blue color represents the working group, while the green and differently colored lines represent people outside the department or project group.

“On the left, you can see a social graph of communication within a group where there is one leader who tells everyone what to do, and there are few horizontal connections within the team. Consequently, this is weak collective intelligence. Strong collective intelligence is shown on the right. From this picture, it is difficult to identify the formal leader because there are many horizontal connections between people. When such a social graph is visible in a company, long-term success is more likely. However, during short-term periods, the left picture, where a sudden change needs to be made and an undemocratic decision needs to be taken, may work better.

When we studied all of this, we realized that all people are different, and that’s normal. We need to be able to work with our opposites. As a rule, Dominants do not express the Integrator phenomenon well; testosterone-driven individuals are not very oxytocin-driven, and often, Innovators do not understand Protectors well. Startups are usually Dominant-Innovators, meaning they care less about rules and sometimes find it difficult to praise their employees. You need to step out of your comfort zone and learn to do this even a little better than you do now, and also surround yourself with people who excel in those areas. Finding your Tim Cook, who will build processes, set limits, and provide guidance on whom to support and praise, is important. A team of diverse individuals is crucial. You need to learn to respect different opinions and understand the arguments. Yes, a decisive decision will be made by one of the leaders, but at least make sure that different people express their views.

It’s important to understand that biologically, we are all built differently and combine the five styles of informal leadership in different proportions. For a company to succeed, there needs to be a harmonious combination of all five styles within the group. Each of us must clearly understand which styles of informal leadership we primarily express, try to step out of our comfort zone and cover the other styles at least a little, and surround ourselves with people who embody them.”

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