If you were an architect, there are steps you would take to build your home: choose the location, select a style and finally, design the specific structure. To architect your leadership style, you need to follow similar steps. Today, we begin by covering the selection of location.

For your home, location matters. In real estate, the theme is “Location, location, location!”. Leadership is no different. One form of leadership will flourish at one location and fail miserably in another. The challenge is identifying in which location your leadership will flourish. These settings are not literal, but cultural representations. For example, a corporation may have a very suburban culture, but be geographically located in the heart of Tokyo. When you choose your location, it is the culture you consider:


The popular cultural setting for most corporations today, the urban location is one which boasts a fast pace, results-orientation and a focus on individuality. The side effects often include a results justify the means mentality that drives higher turnover, long work hours and high variability in results. Urban cultures are often found in INC 500 companies: high growth, mid-sized organizations.

Philly - View From Car as We Drive In


Slower-paced than the urban culture, but far from a permanent vacation is the suburban culture. In a suburban culture employees find a fast pace balanced with an appreciation for life outside the office. The result is less variability in performance but may include lower peaks as well. When I think of suburban cultures, I typically look at most Fortune 500 companies.

Suburban Landscape - Near Salem

Image Courtesy CC License - Andrew Hill

Rural Mountains

The mountains are hard life, but put personal interests and individual passion first. As a result, employees here work the hardest with the least fiscal compensation, but draw rewards from other sources, like a sense of purpose. Think non-profits, faith-based organizations and other mission-oriented work in the rural mountains.


Image CC License - Washington & Jefferson College

Resort Beach

The pure lifestyle organization. These may not be cakewalks but they are almost entirely focused on employee preferences. At the beach you may find creatives, sole proprietors or organizations filled with relatively autonomous employees.

Saugutuck Beach

When you consider your leadership style and the culture your leadership should reflect, start with the location in which you will flourish. Are you an urban, suburban, rural mountain or beach resort leader?

Question: What other locations do you know that reflect a different leadership culture?