The Leader Lifeguard

There’s an adage is leadership that leaders need to be above the fray.

If they’re too close to the work or even know too much about the work that they’re people do, then they aren’t being “leaderly” enough. I’ve always had difficulties with this idea. Sure, a leader always want to hire people who are “smarter and more capable” but let’s be serious. A lot of times the leader is the leader because she is the smartest and most capable person. She is distinctive among the crowd. That’s partly why they rose to the top! In big corporations this “stand-back” attitude makes sense for a very good reason: there’s no way a leader can do every job or have all the expertise. But in startups, founder CEOs and top executives are often very close to the work of the organization. In that case, it’s clearly detrimental if the leader doesn’t step in if the work isn’t being done right. This article by Tom Gimbel argues that leaders should always be willing to jump in and get their hands into the work. Otherwise, the organization becomes timid about doing work right. Occasionally, people need to see a model of execution to know how to perform. “The ability to think big and act small is the skill that separates the best managers from the rest.”

Photo: Md. Shafiul Alam Chowdhury