The Go-With Leader

Sometimes you blaze a trail. Other times, you lead from behind.

The go-with leader walks beside.

too much help spawns weakness

Do-for leaders:

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.

Arms-length leaders:

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.

Go-with leaders:

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:

  1. Doing for.
  2. Hand holding.
  3. Enabling helplessness.

Go-with leaders ask:

  1. What do you want?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. What is your goal?
  4. What kind of help would be helpful?

7 Functions of a go-with leader:

  1. Respect the talent and potential of others.
  2. Understand and accept the weakness and frailties of team members.
  3. Stay available without hovering.
  4. Allow people to try, fail, and learn. Go-with leaders spend more time on learning than correction.
  5. Provide a safety net.
  6. Offer training along with stretching.
  7. Mentor and coach.


You’re worthy of a go-with leader when:

  1. You don’t have all the answers.
  2. You monitor your frustration levels. You know when frustration has become hindrance and seek help.
  3. You enjoy exploring options.
  4. You work hard  before seeking help.

When you read, “Go-with leader,’ what comes to your mind?

How might leaders learn go-with leadership?