Of course there are good and bad versions of these leadership types.

Any of our strengths can be limitations depending on how we use them.



A card carrying paper leader is good at covering up. Hiding their own mistakes and overlooking the contribution of others.

The scissors leader can be, well, cutting. They interrupt, remove and replace with a simple snip.

Then last, the obstinate rock leader. A blocker of any new initiatives. A leader for facts and data but no feelings.

In the game as in real life these styles are often victims of their own style as context and circumstances change.

Paper can easily be cut to ribbons by a vindictive scissor.

An immovable rock can be covered up by a sneaky paper and become obsolete.

The powerful scissor can be blunted and broken by a more connected rock.

What make these types vulnerable is their lack of strategic thinking, political smarts and wisdom about the other characters who are in the game.


Actually to be a great leader you need to use each of these qualities exactly as it occurs in the game. A clever leader is astute enough to guess, reason and intuit which quality is needed at which time. They know who they are playing with. There is flexibility and agility involved. They know it is a game.

Paper leadership is good for covering up team’s missteps and supporting people; it is pretty ineffective when faced with a scissors situation.  Good papers know where the scissors are kept.

Scissor leadership is no good when faced with a stubborn rock; but it’s pretty good when encountering paper thin resistance.

Solid rock leadership is valuable when dealing with those who want to cut the ground from under you, but it can easily be blocked by a well crafted theoretical paper leader.

In some places this is been called situational leadership. I call it matched or mirrored leadership. This requires observation, matching the mindset to the person and the context in which you are having the conversation.

Learning and practising this leadership skill will ensure that you don’t get cut to pieces, or covered over, or hit with a rock.

You may recall from your times with the childhood game, how the best players always seem to be studying the body language and the ‘tells’ of the other person rather than concentrating on the hands.

Love to hear any of your SRP stories.