For the Love of Leadership!

Happy Valentines Day! And yes, believe it or not Valentine’s Day and leadership do have some things in common. Think about it. If you don’t care about a person, it’s doubtful you’ll serve them as a good leader. But “love” isn’t the topic of our discussion today.

I want to talk about candy. Yes, that sweet, yummy, sugar-filled gift we give our Valentine! While I was at the store picking out my candy, I was amazed at how many different kinds of candy there are to choose from. There’s something for everyone!

Wouldn’t it be neat to choose your leader like you choose your candy? If you could do that, what kind of leader would you choose? A sweet, soft marshmallow leader or a Laffy Taffy stick-to-you leader, or maybe a hard jawbreaker kind of boss?

There are times when we need our leader to be all of the above, and as a leader I have to realize that I shouldn’t lead the same way under different conditions. The season of business, the conditions of the game, or the performance of a teammate all dictate what style of leader I need to be.

Now I’m not saying to be a “box of chocolates” leader…you know the high maintenance leader that you never know what you’re gonna get from day to day. I’m simply saying there are times to adjust your style or method based on the outside conditions.

Let’s have some fun with it!

Marshmallow Leaders – These leaders are very soft and mellow and are good in a tense situation or crisis to settle everyone’s nerves. However, consistently leading like a marshmallow will frustrate your team because you don’t seem to have a backbone.

Laffy Taffy Leaders – These leaders will stick to you! And they should during economic downturns or other times of change. When a leader is present and knows the pulse of their team, their presence can create a sense of relief during difficult seasons. However, sticking too close to a teammate can seem like micromanaging. Back off when things are pacing as they should. Don’t smother your people.

Jawbreaker Leaders – Jawbreakers are firm and direct. This is good during crucial conversations. Even though the conversation might be hard for a teammate to hear, when they know where you stand, they have clarity regarding their performance. However, like the other “candy leaders,” too much firm all the time can be frustrating because your teammates might begin to feel like they can’t ever please the boss.

Chocolate Leaders – Have you ever noticed how chocolate seems to be the candy that holds most things together? It’s on the outside of some of my favorite candies: Snickers, Rolos, Milky Way, and Reese’s peanut butter cups, just to name a few.  What a great illustration of a good leader – holding the team together and letting them perform in their area of strength, yet winning as a blended team.

Well, there you have it! A little Valentine’s food – or candy – for thought!

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