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BEAN Headquarters Blog

Lead In Front, In Middle or From Behind?
I had this interesting discussion with some friends and on Facebook yesterday about what is the best way to lead? How can a leader be effective and accomplish goals? How can a leader motivate and manage a team? I felt that there were three ways to lead and there are pros and cons for each style.

1. Lead in Front

Pros: This type of leaders likes to proclaim a vision, takes ownership of success as well as failure, and tends to be great motivator. Basically, this type of leadership requires you to be a star.

Cons: This type of leaders tend not to like share credit, often can not delegate effectively and might over promise on what can be delivered. A modest vision is not sexy, but it might be the realistic goal.

2. Lead in Middle

Pros: This type of leaders like to lead by doing, has no problem delegating responsibilities and can come up with practical solutions because they are in the thick of things, day in and day out.

Cons: This type of leaders are unlikely to bulk against popular opinions even when they are wrong, usually does not have long term vision and can easily shift blame to others when things go wrong.

3. Lead from Behind

Pros: This type of leaders tend to be very result-oriented, do not seek to grab the spot light, can see the big pictures amongst the small moving parts and is very patient for long term success.

Cons: This type of leaders often does not publicize their true goals and intentions, can be seen as manipulative, and because they draw so little attention and tend to be secretive, it is almost impossible to hold them accountable for any mistakes.

For BEAN, we have young leaders of all three kinds, and I think there is a time/place for all three kinds. Without sounding too Machiavellian, I think the most effective leader should be comfortable shifting between each one of the three styles as situation demands. If you want there to be a biography written about you though, you might want to go with "Lead in Front". :)

What is your preferred style of leading? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, I would love to hear about any examples for your favorite and least favorite real-world leadership.

If you want to read more about different styles of leaderships, check out the classic thoughts that are on two opposite ends: Machiavelli’s "Prince" and Confucius' "Analects".

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