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Tyler has been nagging me for the past month (with good reason!) that I needed to explain why this blog is titled LEAN and lead, when all I've been discussing is the lead side of the equation. I knew it was really urgent when he told me that he thought the lean part was related to fitness (doh!).

Church is a leaner. He walks over to people (usually me) and puts all his weight in his two right legs and trusts that person will be there to support the rest. He hasn’t been wrong yet, leaning works, and it makes him feel supported. He encourages you to pet him while he’s leaning against your legs and always walks away with a smile. I knew he was onto something when I noticed this routine.


Leadership requires an artistic balance of knowing when to lead and when to lean on others. The leaning is typically more difficult for leadership minded humans, we like to insist that we can do it all, sans support. But we need to publicly acknowledge that leaning is not a sign of weakness.

Leaning, in fact, requires a lot of sincerity, courage, and trust – all qualities of effective leaders!

The best leaders you know likely have incredible support systems, ask for help when needed, and show characteristics of human frailty (because they are humans). Professing to your team that you know it all and can do it all on your own does not win any leadership points in my book.

One of my life verses (a verse you choose to guide your life) focuses on this concept of leaning.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Leaning and leading is about acknowledging that you can’t do it all, all the time. It’s the idea that you need a support system (i.e. God, family, friends) to walk you through the moments that make no sense, and the days where getting out of bed seems like too much to bear. Effective leaders know this and embrace it.

For those of us who need more science…

A research team at Arizona State University studied approximately 100 chief executive officers, some of whom were experiencing conflict in their personal lives. This particular study found that, in some cases, the conflict proved to be enough of a distraction that their decision-making capabilities eroded and bottom lines were affected. It makes me wonder - if they had been LEANING a little more effectively, might that have offset some of the negative effects of the CEOs' personal conflicts?

So, like Church, let’s learn to LEAN so that we can better LEAD!