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Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute — a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.

Lifeboat or lighthouse – what kind of a leader are you?

As a manager, your job is to get things done. But as a leader, your mission now becomes to get things done through other people. And many times, what that really means is that you have to be a facilitator – someone who removes obstacles, levels the path, greases the wheels – who ensures that your people have the tools they need to achieve their results. But even your involvement as a facilitator can vary. Imagine a continuum where one end is a lifeboat, and the other is a lighthouse.

If you're at the lifeboat end, you might visualize yourself as someone who lets your employees sail on their own, navigating their own way from port to port, but you're close by to step in if there is a crisis. When things go wrong, you're right there to rapidly swoop in to save the situation, and you're gratefully lauded by those who were otherwise drowning.

But if you see yourself at the lighthouse end of the continuum, the image is different. Now, you're a beacon, a guiding light that shines brightly, illuminating the path for your people to get from harbour to harbour. Your role is not so much to search and rescue, but rather to stand firm in the storm, offering hope and resilience to those trying to get to shore. Sometimes It is through advice, and sometimes it is just by being a positive role model.

So which is better? For me, instinctively, both metaphors serve in different situations. The lifeboat version makes more sense when we are leading experienced employees in fast-paced scenarios. But when we are operating in situations of adversity where our employees are metaphorically "adrift" and need a rock-solid foundation to keep their stability, the lighthouse style of leader will create more positive outcomes. Despite that, it has been my experience that every person has a natural inclination towards one end or another. Our strength as leaders comes from not only being able to assess which type better suits the circumstances, but also from being able to fluidly move from one end of the continuum to the other.

So what do you think? Which type of leader – lifeboat or lighthouse – is better? In what kinds of situations? Which end of the continuum is your natural inclination? I would love to hear what you think. Please comment directly on the blog at so that others can participate in the dialogue as well.

In The Globe & Mail: How to work with someone you don't respect

In Merge's latest column for The Globe and MailHow to work with almost everyone – even those you don't respect – she offers specific suggestions to deal with a common reality in the world of work. This link takes you to a pdf version archived on our site. The original article published behind The Globe's paywall, so if you're a subscriber, here is a link directly to their site:

2019 – one full year of focused tips on how to develop and grow your people!

Each video contains one specific, pragmatic, and actionable idea you can use to help your employees develop and grow into accomplished professionals and the future leaders in your organization. Merge's focus in 2019 will be on giving you one explicit pointer in each video to help you harness your people power to build your employees and create results; one suggestion that is quick and easy to internalize and implement.

Turning Managers into Leaders

That Merge LOVES referrals!

Merge's professional practice is built entirely on word-of-mouth, so we are always very thankful when someone thinks highly enough of what Merge does to recommend her to others. Are there people in your organization that could benefit from one of Merge's leadership training programs? Or perhaps you have one or more high-potential leaders who would value perspectives and advice from personalized one-on-one mentoring? Or maybe you belong to an association that would enjoy and learn from one of Merge's keynotes or breakout sessions at your next conference or convention? If so, we'd appreciate your help in getting in touch with the right people. Just contact us and Merge or one of her staff will reach out to you to obtain more information.

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