Leading with FIRE

A Leader who thrives in the different FIRE elements may follow the different leadership styles, however the more balanced leaders practice a wider range of transformational (Bass et al) approaches that make them more effective. Indeed, they are more resilient and agile in different situations.


The Transformational leadership skills described by Bass et al looks at individuals who transform their teams into better versions of themselves as individuals, as well as improve the team dynamics and build trust and vision. This ‘inter-dependence’ approach to top team performance is one that I subscribe to and recommend. It allows individuals to be the best they can be, yet retain the respect and understanding of other team players. Often described as the ‘hive mind’ (resembling how bees work in synchronicity without a leader barking orders) it allows individuals to perform at their best, balanced between personal satisfaction and altruism.


In the FIRE model (see www.lightthefire.online) we look at achieving a greater work-life balance through a focus on four elements that give life purpose. Flow represents getting out of our comfort zone, becoming deeply absorbed in what we are doing, and relishing the challenge. Impact gives us a sense of purpose, aiming to make a difference and find value in what we do, that is outside of the materialistic. Roles ensure we act as responsible individuals, dependable and caring. While Excellence feeds our growth mindset and urges us to continuously learn new and better ways to live and work.


In this article I overlay the four FIRE elements over the four elements of Transformational leadership. It seems to fit, however judge for yourself. What I hope to achieve is the understanding that leadership is a balance. It’s not always about charging from the front, making all the decisions and motivating your team with pep talk. Sometimes it’s about being analytical or acting as the problem solver, while in others you need to lead from behind, nurturing your teams to be able to lead without you in future situations. It also respects our different personalities, where we often pigeon hole introverts as weak leaders (clearly not the case). It hopefully allows those of us that are not great public speakers to play to our other strengths, lighting the fire of our followers using a different approach to leadership, with the confidence that comes from self assurance.


The four elements are described in a leadership context below.

FLOW leaders will lead from the front, motivate by challenging the team, encourage people to get out of their comfort zone by creating simple purpose-driven stretch goals that are clear and transparent. Their weaknesses may be that they don’t tollerate laziness or beating around the bush, and can oversimplify situations. They lead through Idealised Influence.


IMPACT leaders will lead by storytelling, inspiring the team through future visions of greatness, where people will be successful in their own right, and motivated by making a difference in the world. They are typically extroverts that are great motivators and draw people towards them. Their weaknesses may be their over-enthusiasm to jump in without much thought, are impulsive and impatient, and can leave the more quiet people behind. They are not very open to criticism. They lead effectively with Inspirational Motivation.


ROLE focussed leaders may lead from the back, by lifting up their team and helping them grow. They nurture their team and invest in learning & development. They respect their teams as individuals and encourage people to play to their strengths, while making accommodations for weaknesses. They clarify roles and responsibilities and expect everyone to be committed to them. They are frustrated when people don’t show responsibility, act selfishly or show off for personal gain. They love it when the team wins! They lead through Individualised Consideration.


EXCELLENCE driven leaders seek continuous improvement. They are interested in analysing situations and opportunities and encourage their teams to think, seek alternatives, hypothesise and formulate decisions through evidence based practices and results. They are typically quiet and perceived as intellectuals, experts or professionals, but are the go-to person to solve complex problems or difficult situations. They create structure and process so their teams can feel secure. They find diffculty leading in both emotional and in abstract situations and can be perceived as slow in making a decision. They lead through Intellectual Stimulation.


TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERS are balanced when they are balanced across all the FIRE elements, practicing all four of the above approaches depending on the situation. In crisis or challenge they adopt a FLOW approach, while preferring a ROLE approach when building teams. They stimulate their teams to solve problems and seek EXCELLENCE while motivating them by focussing energy on adding value and making an IMPACT.


So if you feel that you’d like to take on a leadership role but saw your personality as a block, perhaps the FIRE model will allow you to better play to your strengths. Use the simple map on our website to explore your areas of strength. If you are a leader that predominantly uses one area, then focusing on getting a better balance across the four FIRE elements will transform your leadership effectiveness, especially in different situations or with different teams.


Ultimately, it is likely that your team consists of a range of personalities that like to be led differently. Your ability to transform yourself to match these people and situations will go a long way in getting results through an inter-dependent high functioning team that cares about personal and team success in a balanced way.


For more informationion about our FIRE workshops, for leadership development or merely to build team spirit and inter-dependence, get in touch.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *