Healthy Leaders


3 Kinds of Leaders

Russ ClineRuss Cline

The 3 Leader Types

Every organization needs one or a blend of these leaders at some point in the course of growth:

  1. An Originator

This is the innovative thinker, the dreamer, the visionary. This is the leader that likes to begin new initiatives and launch new vision.

  1. An Organizer

This is a strategist. This doesn’t mean they aren’t visionaries, but they do best by bringing vision into reality. Without an organizer, many great movements die.

  1. An Operator

This person is a management expert. They are consistent, and they create the daily functions that help the organization to live, grow and thrive.

Combination/Blends of Leader Types

There’s also a blend of these. A Leader can be an “Originator/Organizer” or an “Organizer/Operator” or any combination to different degrees.

Recognizing Calling

When we look at this, we begin to understand why some “movements” make it and some don’t. Some leaders are natural originators, but they have no idea how to make things last. Others are great operators, but they aren’t builders.

In many organizations, the assumption is that just because someone has a vision or a great idea, they know how to turn it into an organization that lasts.

For any organization to last, there needs to be a blend of leadership strengths and gifts. Once in a while there’s a leader that can do all of these things, but that is rare. This is why it’s so important to choose the right people to lead, develop and grow an organization.

I was recently working with a leader, and his vision was to help kids in his country. He was a great leader, and before he knew it, he had 60 staff members, a large national organization, and he was spending all of his time solving problems and managing his staff. He didn’t even get to connect with kids in crisis anymore.

He was wondering how this happened and what he could do about it. We talked about his need to find an “organizer/operator” to come alongside him and help his vision grow and continue. He was even willing to step aside and let someone else lead. He didn’t want to manage, nor was he good at it. He was a great visionary though!

Pause and Reflect:

Think about your role.

  • What kind of leader are you?
  • What are your gifts and strengths?
  • What have you experienced?

Here are some thoughts:

Figure Out Where You Work Best

Look at your history; where do you work best? Where do you feel that you make the best contribution? I’m not asking what you’d “like” to do, I’m asking historically, when have you been in the best place?

Who Helps You The Most

Look at these three roles: Originator, Organizer, Operator.  What do you need to come alongside of you and your leadership? An example: You may be a great “systems person,” but you need someone looking ahead at what’s coming next. You know that you work better if you partner with an originator.

Identify Your Strengths and Make a Shift

If you’re feeling trapped, overwhelmed, burned-out or you just don’t know what to do next, there’s a high probability that you’re working in the wrong role. Make a change. You will not last if you’re not working in your giftedness. The organization won’t last if it doesn’t have the right combination of strengths. For a while things will be fine, but it won’t last.

Marcus Buckingham tells us in “Now, Discover Your Strengths” that there’s no way we can all work in our giftedness ALL of the time. But he does encourage us to find ways to work MORE in our giftedness.

Some of you need to make some changes.

Some of you need to recruit some people who will help you do your best.

What are you going to do? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

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Russ Cline