Rose of Leary

What is the ‘Rose of Leary’ test?

In the ‘Rose of Leary’, it is not about the type of human nature you are, but rather about getting a clear understanding of the impact of behavior you can have on others and the interaction between people. According to Timothy Leary, people do have a preference for a certain type of behavior. In order to clarify human behavior and the interaction between people, Timothy Leary developed a communication model, named the ‘Rose of Leary’. This model consists of a horizontal and a vertical axis.

The horizontal axis focuses on relationships with others and the vertical axis focuses on attitude to others. The four directions form a rose from which the name of Timothy Leary’s theory has been derived.

Explanation Sub positions:

Leading: Providing advice, suggesting a way forward.

Helping: Building upon others’ proposals, showing understanding.

Cooperative: Agreeing with others, giving compliments.

Dependent: Seeking approval, asking questions.

Withdrawn: Distancing from the conversation, blaming yourself.

Rebellious: Exploring items to disagree on, asking critical questions.

Offensive: Emphasizing disagreement, criticizing the other person.

Competitive: Providing alternatives, proposing different courses of action.

The ‘Rose of Leary’ is not a model for establishing one's character. The ‘Rose of Leary’ is about behaviors and behavioral patterns. It is about how you evoke a certain behavior in another person with your own behavior and vice versa. 

There are several tests that do measure your personality and thus show how you will usually, naturally, behave towards others. An example of such a personality test is the Big Five. You can take the test here.

Use in organizations

To truly form a high-performing team with the current team setup, the focus has to be on mentality. It, of course, does not make sense to have a team full of leaders, nor does it work if everybody is accommodating others. That is why balance is the key in building a high-performing team.

Criticism is something that keeps everybody sharp. However, be aware that criticism leads to other types of ‘Opposed’ behavior on the left side of the ‘Rose of Leary’. So if you see this happen, try to understand why they are there and influence them to a ‘Together’ oriented mindset as soon as possible. This will make your team become stronger and high performing.

Giving the managers and team the tools to make their story clear and impactfully influence others of the added value is a great move to improve performance. Helping each other and building bridges sets the tone to grow as a team and organization. Using the 'Rose of Leary' model helps to move in that direction.


Consider a practical example in which your communication partner gives you a straightforward overview of how he/she thinks about the situation without any restriction at all. Reverse intervention is key to converting the latent conflict into a constructive dialogue.

You can grab initiative by taking a paradoxical friendly and dominant position. Maintain this position as long as needed and do not deviate. According to the submissive symmetry and complementary principle, your communication partner will finally behave friendly. Unless there is no willingness to keep up the dialogue.

Such an intervention requires some practice because it goes against your natural feeling and behavior. Ask open questions and give the other person time to let off steam and answer your questions. Once he/she is calm and shows a degree of positive susceptibility to your questions, you can get in control and turn it into an open and respectful dialogue.

Where can you take the ‘Rose of Leary’ test? 


- G. (2018, 19 september). Roos van Leary - test - Managementmodellensite. Managementmodellensite.

- Mulder, P. (2023, 2 maart). Rose of Leary Model explained: the theory and a downloadable test. Toolshero.,triggers%20another%20type%20of%20behaviour.

- Peter, L. (2022, 19 oktober). Create High Performing Teams Via The Rose Of Leary. Lepaya EN.

- Van Haaften, R. (z.d.). Rose of Leary.

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