Stay Away from Monsters

By John Gronski

Scary times. Halloween is upon us, and our thoughts turn to monsters. As a leader of your organization, you do not want the people you lead to place you in that category. This may be a good time to reflect on your leadership style. Ask yourself the question, “are you the type of leader you would want to follow?”

I want to address four types of monsters who are absolutely hard to work with.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

To summarize the novella, Dr. Henry Jekyll is a good man who possesses solid character. Edward Hyde is a morally corrupt individual. Jekyll develops a serum that transforms him into the corrupt Hyde causing a situation where friends of Jekyll never know what person is going to show up from day to day. Friends of Jekyll are confused because they never know if they are going to be treated kindly or with vulgarity. As a leader you do not want to become Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

A Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality represents someone who is sometimes good and pleasant and sometimes very rude or bad. We have probably witnessed leaders or others with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality, never knowing which person will greet us when we show up for work in the morning. We wonder if we will be greeted with a slap on the back or a punch in the face.

Leaders must be self-aware and have control of their emotions. People trust leaders who behave consistently and stand by their values in good times as well as bad times. Displaying integrity always, leading by example, and showing people that you care about them will grow trust with those you lead.


Jon Gordon has coined the phrase “energy vampire” to describe a negative leader. I prefer the phrase “energy sponge”. It is not pleasant to be in the company of a leader who is an energy sponge. Energy sponges sap the energy and motivation out of the people they lead. They have the proverbial “half glass empty” mentality and when they circulate through an organization, they zero in on finding fault with the people they lead.

You do not want to be that type of leader. Strive to be a leader who brightens up a room when you enter it, not when you leave it. An effective muddy boots leader will find the good things people are doing when they circulate through an organization. Of course, they will not turn a blind eye if something needs fixing, but they will not focus on nitnoid issues either. Good leaders will strive to find someone doing something right and celebrate it.

Good leaders will also remove obstacles from the path of those they lead. I heard a story about a police captain who spent part of the day driving along with a deputy sheriff in the squad car. The deputy was dreading the captain’s company. The opinion of the deputy changed very quickly when the captain found that the computer in the deputy’s squad car was not functioning properly. Within 24 hours the deputy’s computer was repaired thanks to the captain’s follow-through in solving the problem the deputy was having. This is a great example of a leader removing an obstacle from the path of a follower and you can rest assured the news of the captain fixing a problem rather than causing a problem circulated through the squad room like wildfire.


You do not want to be labeled a ghost leader. A ghost leader is a laissez-faire leader who allows everyone the greatest flexibility without regard for experience, performance, or training levels. A ghost leader will not communicate guidance or expectations and will be absent during tough times and crisis situations.

Leaders must be present when the going gets tough. Leaders do not need to be great all the time, but they need to be great when it matters. Leaders must be where the action is, and they must place themselves where they can gain the most insight and provide a guiding hand when necessary.

Key responsibilities of a leader include issuing guidance, setting priorities, and providing resources. A leader cannot expect followers to meet expectations if the leader never communicates what those expectations are. Leaders must be visible and model the behavior they wish to see.

A sergeant major I served with liked to say, “good leaders prevent problems just by being there”. He was exactly right. When leaders with a reputation for enforcing standards are present standards will be maintained.

Michael Myers

Michael Myers is a pretty mean dude and is a very scary guy. We may have known leaders like this and unfortunately, there are still some out there. These are leaders who belittle and bully others and are not approachable. Leaders like this don’t say much but their body language is intolerable. They are toxic leaders which means they poison the well they exist within.

I believe leaders must act as character-based, servant leaders. To describe leaders like this I like to use the term Iron-Sharpened Leader. This is a leader who stands by the high values of integrity and moral courage in think and then. They know how to cultivate trust in an organization by trusting others first, providing a vision, leading by example, and showing their followers they care by providing them with training, guidance, and the resources they need to do their job.

Iron-Sharpened leaders provide a vision and a clear sense of purpose to their teams. They possess the courage to make decisions when decisions must be made, and they communicate well.

These leaders are resilient. They are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually fit and these humble leaders demonstrate vulnerability by moving out of their comfort zones, asking their followers what they think, and sharing stories to inspire others.

Be the Leader You Would Want to Follow

As a leader, strive to be a servant leader and seek ways to serve those you lead by adhering to high values, helping those on your team feel as though they belong, and developing others. Be consistent in your behavior, bring energy and an optimistic attitude to the team, and be present, especially in tough times. Halloween is a time for monsters, but it is never a good time for leaders to portray that character. Take the time to assess your leadership persona and ensure those you lead are treated to an Iron-Sharpened Leader.

About John Gronski

Major General John L. Gronski (U.S. Army Retired) is the founder and CEO of Leader Grove LLC, a leadership consulting firm. John is the author of two books, “Iron-Sharpened Leadership” and “The Ride of Our Lives” and he is an international and Fortune 500 speaker. Learn more about John Gronski at https://johngronski.com/

Continue To Learn

John created a great online leadership development program. You can take online leadership development courses including Cultivating Trust, Introduction to Emotional Intelligence, and Conflict Management. Once you complete a course, take a short quiz, attain an 80% score, and download a certificate of completion. Find out more and enroll at Store.LeaderGrove.com

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