God has given us all the gift of leadership. Kids lead their friends, moms and dads lead their families, co-workers lead one another, supervisors lead teams, and so forth. It is imperative to know what type of leader you are; this helps when you think about the leaders around you.
Leaders can be put into four categories. I like to use travel terminology, so here are the four types of leaders from the vantage point of a car:
This leader likes to set the direction of where people are going. This leader is good at knowing the route, seeing the potholes, and setting the pace for the passengers. This leader has a good sense of what works for everyone in the car. This leader is drivin’ because they are driving!
The Front-Seat Passenger
This leader loves to set the vibe. They choose the music, lead the conversation, and build the car experience through games and moments. They want all the passengers to have fun and to remember the car experience. This leader loves to set the mood and is okay if you don’t love their choices —they’ll find ways to make sure you’ll love the whole experience. This leader is focused on the emotional and social environment. They will switch to new experiences fast, always seeking to take the car passengers to the proverbial mountain top.
The Back-Seat Passenger on the Passenger Side
This leader is driven. Their task is to get to the end of the car ride. They’ve got their head down, watching a movie, listening to music, or finishing a book. This leader isn’t interested in the ride as an experience; they want the car ride to get from point A to B. Finish the task at hand to get to the goal.
The Back-Seat Passenger on the Driver Side
This leader is gazing out the window, taking in the scenery and discovering new insights to share from the trip. This leader asks questions and points out observations. This leader will share things that others may not see.
It’s important to know what leader you are, so that as a member of a team, family, or service group, you can know what role you will play and how you will be successful. Each leader is necessary for the car ride to go well. Each team needs a car full of leaders filling different leadership roles.
Sometimes we all play different parts of leadership.
I’m naturally wired to drive, but sometimes I need to be the front-seat passenger or one of the back-seat passengers. When I am not the driver, I must acquiesce to the leadership of the other people in my car.
I’ve seen too many teams with only drivers, only front-seat passengers, or only back-seat passengers. Even though they are gifted leaders, they create a dynamic where instead of going on a trip, they just trip each other up. Talk with your family, team, and colleagues, so you can each share what kind of leadership role you are primarily drawn to fill. Having an open and authentic conversation can help the ride not only go smoother, but also be more successful — in the short run and the long run!