Still Life

A Series of Mental Snapshots

Lessons Learned in Leadership – You shouldn’t treat everyone the same

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2008

So I am on a ‘write about my leadership experiences’ kick lately! I have had these thougths/ideas floating around in my head for a while and its definitely due time for them to get written down.

This edition is based on the observation that you cannot treat every person you manage the same. For some reason I feel this to be counter intuitive, I think to myself that you would want to treat everyone the same, it is fair that way… right? Not so much.

The ‘issue’ is that everyone: works differently, has different goals, is motivated in different ways essentially everyone needs something else from a manager. I found that when I was first in the leadership role, I tended to treat my team as I would want to be treated by a leader, basically I would give general instructions, lay out my expectations, and then leave them to my own devices (it should be clear that I am not a proponent of micromanaging!). Now this leadership approach would work well with me, that does not mean it would work well with everyone, and I learned this through experience. One of my team members needed (and not necessarily in a bad way) a little more guidance and a little bit more micromanaging, so I had to modify my leadership style to accomodate for that. It was a very interesting revelation for me.

The main point of this post is to illustrate that everyone is different (this is extremely important to not only realize but really understand), and if you look at it that way, its not surprising that everyone needs something different from a leader. So here’s the question… are you a uniform leader or do you modify your style to better suit your various team members?



2 Responses to “Lessons Learned in Leadership – You shouldn’t treat everyone the same”

  1. ahy said


    Have you come across the Situational Leadership quadrant? It’s worth a look – this looks like a reasonably good explanation.

    Back in my former life when my job involved a lot more people development/team leadership than it does now, I used to really enjoy figuring out what style I’d need to use with each new person. It was like a puzzle to solve – what makes this one tick? So I guess I fall way over on the flexible end of the spectrum.

    I’ve met a number of managers though who just aren’t any good at giving someone who needs a lot of support and guidance what they need. This doesn’t always have to be a problem for them though – some manage the situation by arranging for the person to get that support from someone else. It can be a great way of developing another team member’s own management skills, if they can mentor and support other people in the team. (Though this is a lot easier to implement with new entrants than it is in a well established team, for obvious reasons).

  2. Steve said


    I actually had not come across, I gave it a look over and it seemed pretty interesting. I actually also like the people puzzle, I find it, at most times, a lot more challenging than the usual technical problems I encounter.

    I think your suggestion is an interesting one, it could be useful to see if a team member might have the aptitudes of being a good leader!


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