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How You Lead

My boys (ages 11 & 13) asked me a question about why I was so flexible and accommodating in scheduling my staff.  They figure I could schedule the staff all the worst hours and save only the easiest hours for myself.

They liked my answer.


There are many styles and philosophies on leadership.

Role Model
You can lead from the front, modeling the kind of behavior you want.  Going first into battle, leading the charge.  If you have a staff that needs an example to follow, this is a good approach to take.  Your staff will only work as hard and care as much as you care. Never more, usually less.  But they will watch what you do and work accordingly.

You can lead from behind in a role of service, doing whatever you need to do to put them in a position to succeed.  Many coaches take this role, teaching and encouraging their players to do their best.  If you have hired a staff of compassionate, caring people, they will relish in seeing you sacrifice your needs for theirs.

You can lead from the side, constantly guiding and overseeing their progress while keeping your own shoes out of the mud.  If you won’t be there in the trenches when the action takes place, this might be the preferred role as the staff learns not to depend on you.  Teachers often take this role in preparing their students for life after the classroom.

A smart leader chooses from all three based on the needs of the staff.  It starts, however, with who you hire.  

If you are going to lead from the side because you are leaving the staff on their own, then you need to hire a staff with responsibility and accountability.  If you are going to lead from the front, then you need to hire people who want to be led.  Free thinkers won’t flourish in this style of leadership.  If you are going to lead from behind, you need to hire compassionate, service-based people who will respond to the service and sacrifice you give to them.  You also need to hire people who can take the lead, while you support from the back.

Knowing who you hired and why helps you choose the kind of leadership style that will work best for them.  That’s a pretty good lesson for a couple young boys to already start learning.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS  You probably already guessed that I like to hire compassionate, helpful, problem-solving leaders.  I lead from behind, which means when push comes to shove, I’ll more often sacrifice my own needs for those of the staff.  They work harder for me when I do that. (And isn’t that the ultimate goal?)

PPS If you aren’t sure what leadership style will work best for your staff, think about what leadership style will work best for you, then hire a staff to compliment your style.

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