Ryan Witt is in the thick of it. He’s launching H4Y, a medical technology startup with plans to revolutionize healthcare by changing the way physicians treat their patients. He’s a CEO building a team, gathering a network of medical advisors and soliciting investors. He is also an emerging Millennial leader in the process of defining his leadership philosophy and leadership style.
Witt explained, “Every leader has a different style. But you have to decide what your style is. It’s a conscious choice.”
Before his work with H4Y he underestimated just how important it would be to define his own leadership philosophy. It isn’t only something used by those leading large organizations. Leadership style is important as soon as a project becomes you plus one other person. It’s something that has to be on a leader’s mind early in the process. It has to be considered even while s/he is building a team. Your leadership philosophy should even determine who you choose to work with. Witt explained further, “Your team has to balance you. They should compliment you in areas you aren’t strong. But that means you have to know your flaws and be willing to surround yourself with people who make you better.” Finding people that compliment and work well under your personal leadership style will pay dividends long term.
He was refreshingly candid when sharing the struggle he faces defining his leadership philosophy. He’s seen and studied very successful leaders who take two very different approaches. There are those who follow the more totalitarian route. These leaders dictate a company’s vision and single handedly direct each project’s path. On the flip side of the coin are leaders who value collaboration. These leaders look for team input to drive a project’s direction. They value each team member’s contribution.
While both styles have merit, Witt believes it’s important for leaders to choose between the two. According to Witt, “People get confused if one day you’re saying, ‘What’s your opinion?’ and the next day you’re saying, ‘You’ve got to do it this way because I said so and it has to get done.’ You can’t wear Uggs with a suit. It isn’t that Uggs are a bad fashion choice, they just don’t work with a suit.” But Witt is still in the process of figuring out if his leadership style is more Uggs or three-piece suit.
He explains, “We’d all like to be the person who asks the team, “What do you think?” But the real challenge comes when you have customers breathing down your neck and the struggles of a startup. It’s difficult when you’re really trying to get that first client to get off the ground. It’s a temptation to just say, ‘We have to get this done, I don’t care if it feels like it’s impossible. We’re going to stay up all night for a week straight to make it happen because that’s what we have to do to close this deal.’” After all, collaboration can only happen if a team has work on which to collaborate.
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3 Ideas from Ryan Witt to Give You Momentum
- Your Leadership Philosophy is a Conscious Decision
- Your Leadership Philosophy Impacts the Selection of Your Team
- Defining a Leadership Philosophy Seems Simple Until You Have to Actually Put it to Use
Witt questions if in time he’ll discover a happy medium between these two very different styles. Recognizing that employees’ moral is an important component of an organization’s success, he wonders if there is a way to combine both approaches without confusing his team. He suggests, “The most important thing is to keep your team happy and motivated. When certainty is what they need, a leader needs be certain of direction and communicate it to the team. But there are also times when people just want to be heard.” Leading his team by listening to their needs will be part of his leadership philosophy as H4Y continues to grow.
Ryan has agreed to catch up with us in coming months and allow us to walk with him on his leadership journey. Too often we learn of a leader’s road to success only after he or she has traveled it. We are forced to view the story in hindsight and experience the lessons from a time-filtered perspective. Witt is graciously giving us an opportunity for a different perspective. We look forward to learning if Ryan finds a way to make Uggs work with a three-piece suit or if he discovers an entirely different leadership ensemble that suits him even better.
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Was your leadership philosophy a conscious choice? And how has that affected your leadership journey?
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Emerging Millennial Leader: Ryan Witt
Thank you, Molly, for capturing Ryan’s thoughts so well. Having met Ryan about 3 years ago at a Health 2.0 conference, he immediately exhibited great, empathetic leadership capabilities and it has been fun to see this unfold in the starting of his company. Listening to Ryan as we talked to him just energized me further on all the great things ahead for Millennials and Ryan is such a great reason why! Thanks! Jon
Your story is inspirational, Ryan as you grow into the leader you are meant to be.
Leadership style is authentic when it reflects an individual’s core beliefs and values. It is also easy to maintain that style when we are being honest with ourselves.
I love the visual of a pair of uggs with a suit! Eclectic is sometimes ok if it is who we are. Being consistent and nurturing others are also key to leadership success.
Good luck and can’t wait to hear all about your journey.
Thanks for joining the conversation, Terri. I’m so glad to read that you enjoyed Ryan’s story! He’s an inspirational guy.
Love your advice, “Leadership style is authentic when it reflects an individual’s core beliefs and values.” That’s such a great thing to keep in mind.