The Go-With Leader
Sometimes you blaze a trail. Other times, you lead from behind.
The go-with leader walks beside.
Compassionate leaders lean toward over-help. They jump in too soon. They solve other people’s struggles too quickly. They’re too protective.
Do-for leaders end up disrespected by talented teammates. Quick help feels like an insult to talent. Talent loves to perform. If you help too quickly, you short-circuit their opportunities to perform.
Do-for leaders over-work themselves and under-work their teams.
Distance feels like indifference when you’re stuck and struggling. Arms-length leaders jump in too late. They show up to save the day, but their teams are already demoralized.
Arms-length leaders end up alone and falling below their potential. Talent wants leadership’s help to develop and succeed.
Unhelpful help hinders development by stepping in too soon or too late.
Ineffective help creates weakness.
The goal of go-with leadership is development. The problems of do-for leadership are solved by passion to develop people. Arms-length leadership is cured by walking beside.
Go-with leadership isn’t:
- Doing for.
- Hand holding.
- Enabling helplessness.
Go-with leaders ask:
- What do you want?
- Where are you going?
- What is your goal?
- What kind of help would be helpful?
7 Functions of a go-with leader:
- Respect the talent and potential of others.
- Understand and accept the weakness and frailties of team members.
- Stay available without hovering.
- Allow people to try, fail, and learn. Go-with leaders spend more time on learning than correction.
- Provide a safety net.
- Offer training along with stretching.
- Mentor and coach.
You’re worthy of a go-with leader when:
- You don’t have all the answers.
- You monitor your frustration levels. You know when frustration has become hindrance and seek help.
- You enjoy exploring options.
- You work hard before seeking help.
When you read, “Go-with leader,’ what comes to your mind?
How might leaders learn go-with leadership?
This really feels like a direct link to the Blanchard model. There is a big focus on understanding needs and where someone is in the learning process.
Thanks Josh. If I can swim in the same pool as Ken, I feel fortunate. He’s awesome.
Liked the post and an interesting way of defining leadership styles.
‘Go-with Leader’ is a true leader who leads the group with high zeal and motivation. He consults, directs and guides the group members towards fulfillment of common goals. He instills the right confidence in them and is always available for any help or assistance. He observes and keeps a progress track. I term this leader as a Professional.
He prefers to have an internal competition for the members to excel and come with innovative steps to save time, cost and efforts. He becomes ‘a role model’ for others with adequate knowledge, readiness to help and demonstrates fairness in his acts. In real terms, he is preparing future leaders from within.
Thanks Dr. Asher. As I read your comment I thought about building a leadership pipeline within organizations. In a sense, the go-with leader is building the future of organizations.
Great post. Would add to the 7 functions “Understanding and acknowledging team members strengths” in addition to understanding weaknesses.
Thanks Mim. How could I leave that out? 🙂
Dan excellent post.
One of my first bosses, George, reminds me of this go with leadership. He would give me an overview of what was needed and the goal but he let me work at it my myself knowing he would answer my questions and redirect me if need be.
The way you learn to be a go with leader? You need to be lucky enough to work for someone like George. I really believe that like children we learn by watching others in business. Hopefully you get some good leaders to watch!
Brad James, author The Business Zoo
Thanks Brad. I totally agree. Models accelerate our journey. It’s one thing to hear or read something. It’s another to see it in action.
How insightful! I had not previously heard the term “go-with leader,” but it is so apt at describing that set of traits. In my experience there is often a fine line between “go-with” and “arms length” behaviors, and it is essential to make sure our fellow voyagers know our intent. Effective communication and professional relationships are, as always, key ingredients of success.
Thinks Jim. The expression came to me during morning reflections. You’ve nailed one of the biggest challenges of leadership. When to step in…when to stay out.
Spot on, Dan! Enjoyed the post.
Expanding on Mim’s comment… We cannot forget about the ever-important relationships and knowing our team members. Some need more hand-holding while others can be let off the leash. A balanced team grows the “Go-with” leader. Love the term!
For me, my instinct takes me to one end of the other. I like this post because it reminds me that my goal is not necessarily the end product but really the person’s development. When I am focused on the results, I end up in “go-for,” when I want to let people try, I might end up “arms-length.”
Thanks for the post.
In my mind, leadership in any organization is social work. And at any given point along the way, everybody is leading some thing or somebody.
That being said, when challenging my team to address their work in your suggested fashion, it helps me to create a safe environment. Like children, we need to have clear boundaries set so that if we’re adventuring into unknown territory, we feel safe exploring. In otherwords, we know that we may stumble and skin a knee, but feel we won’t break a leg if we stay within the boundaries. To create that environment, I like to insure the following 6 values are part of our practice and culture: fun, challenge, effective communication, teamwork, trust, & safety (emotional & physical).
I love the way you filter concepts into digestible snacks. Your topics are reassuring, the comments create additional credibility, & It’s really transferable to my teams. I share them weekly and they are becoming thematic.