One of my readers shared with me his conclusion that he was a better lieutenant than a captain. In other words, he prefers, and excels, in being second in command, rather than first. I certainly have seen this principle illustrated in my work with leaders. There are people who are ideally suited for the top leadership position and others who are best suited for the next level. And there are some, who in certain circumstances, can do either job equally well.
Food for Thought ~
The important point here is to have the self-awareness and clarity to understand your own skills and strengths. In turn, you can then seek the level of leadership that is the best fit for you. Both of these leadership roles are crucial to a well-managed organization. Although we might be able to generalize as to what traits are best suited for which level, I think the more salient issue is to use this concept to be sure that all the leadership and management bases are covered. Every top leader/captain will have strengths and weaknesses, and having a good lieutenant is ideally someone who complements your skill set, someone who has the strengths you don’t have. If you are young, early in your career, serving as lieutenant is certainly a time-honored way to grow into the captain’s role. A small aside… the lieutenant position goes by many names or titles. That’s not important. What’s important is the function, the role and the trust and collaboration between the captain and lieutenant.
Question for the day ~
Which role are you best suited for – captain or lieutenant? If you are a captain, do you have trusted and skilled lieutenant(s)? If not, how can you develop someone for this position?
In Closing ~
My new column in the North Bay Business Journal is about clarifying your personal values as a leader and then extending that to the renewal of your organization’s values. Click here to read the article.