I keep seven Post-It notes on my desk. One for each of my team members. On these slips of paper are reminders of how each of them operate, what motivates them, how they describe themselves, and how they prefer to be supported.

For example, Wendy is competitive and likes to win. She’s an achiever, tenacious, and likes clear goals. Brad values networks and relationships. He has a contact for nearly any industry and knows who to call for any issue. Jessy is creative and outgoing. She likes when I give her guardrails and allow her to operate within them.

As the Executive Director at Ohio Corn & Wheat, my job is about people. Finding the right people to be on our team or one of our Boards. Putting people in positions where they can better the organization and themselves. Giving people the resources they need to be successful. Empowering their strengths and getting out of their way. Ohio Corn & Wheat works because I surround myself with people who do what they do very well, and then let them do it.

This style of leadership has developed over many years. As an employee I saw how other bosses in different organizations operated and learned from them. Then I saw how fellow executives ran their teams and observe what works best and what doesn’t produce the best results. Ultimately, I learned that people are at the center of the workplace, and how you interact with them matters. My style may not work for everyone, but it works for Ohio Corn & Wheat, and that’s what I care about.


Tadd Nicholson is the Executive Director of Ohio Corn & Wheat.