Runner, Jogger, Walker, and Sitter

Recently I had the chance to hear Ron Clark from the Ron Clark Academy give a talk on passion and energy. Ron describes the bus concept from Good to Great, where it’s important to get the right people moving in the right direction. Only, he changes it to be more like a Flinstones bus where it has a big hole cut out of the floor and people are powering it with their feet (instead of a motor). He then goes on to describe the four types of people:

  • Runner – Always pushing hard. Self-starters. Have tons of ideas. Make mistakes and continue on. It’s critical to support and help these people in whatever way possible.
  • Jogger – Does a good job and helps. Never going to get the big promotion but adds value to the team. Quality team member.
  • Walker – Sometimes goes in the right direction. Needs help and coaxing. Occasionally with great support can become jogger but not often.
  • Sitter – Doesn’t carry their weight at all. Not a good fit. Needs to find a different home ASAP.

With startups, as the team scales from a few people to a dozen people to dozens of people, it becomes readily apparent which people fall into each of the four categories. Runners are the most important and where leaders should spend most of their time. Joggers are helpful and valuable team members, but follow and don’t lead. Walkers and sitters should almost always be shown the door. I enjoyed hearing Ron’s story and powerful message.

What else? What are your thoughts on the idea of runners, joggers, walkers, and sitters?

3 thoughts on “Runner, Jogger, Walker, and Sitter

  1. I recently talked to a friend who is the CEO of an Atlanta start up about some personnel issues he was having, and it made me think there should be another category called “dragger”. This would be someone who is dragging their feet and actively working against what the team is trying to accomplish. It’s tough to be the “bad guy” and show someone the door, especially if they have contributed in the past. Anyone else have that experience?

  2. “Three cheers” to teachers and runners like Ron. David, your post has reminded me of this quote by Confucius: “If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.”

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