It’s Guest Post Monday! This post is by Grayson who is a father, writer, husband, and servant of Christ. He helps others find God’s Living Water. You can follow him on his blog and Twitter. If you would like to be featured as a guest poster on my blog click here.
We think of leaders as being out in front. Leaders are heads of the pack. The alpha males. The top dogs.
But the more I lead people, the more misguided this seems.
That’s because real leadership happens beside someone, not in front of them. True mentoring and coaching is done alongside a protégé.
The problem with leading from the front
It’s always weird to see a football coach up in the box, calling plays from a headset. That’s because a coach is supposed to be on the sidelines with their players. How else will they know the intimate details of the game and be prepared to call the plays?
I’ve worked with plenty of the “out front” leaders. The ones who bark orders from meetings and emails. They’re quick to tell you what should be happening, as long as their boss is around. They all have one thing in common – they demoralize their team.
In the Bible, King David’s fall into sexual immorality came as a result of not being with his army as they went into battle with the Ammonites. He was back at home, calling the shots from afar. This had to be frustrating to say the least to the his men who were putting their lives on the line.
Nothing is more sapping as an employee or team member than to be told how slow you ran the race by someone who didn’t run it. It’s hard to hear how bad you did when there was no one around to answer your questions about how to do it better. You wind up with the motivation of a sloth.
The real problem with leading from the front is obvious – your team is behind you.
Slow down and let them catch up
If your team is always behind, you will be too. Start leading from beside them so you can all cross the finish line at the same time. There are 3 key things you’ll notice when you lead from beside:
- Great input from your team: If you slow yourself down and let the rest of your team catch up, you just might find their input far more valuable than you think. Often times, people have great ideas but they’re screaming them up wind to someone who’s not prepared to hear them. That person you think could never contribute has at least one good idea that could help take you to the next level.
- Everyone learns: The opportunity to teach is one of the most overlooked aspects of leadership. Leaders should constantly be learning, but they should also constantly be teaching. Teaching others prepares them as a leader. Your mission is always to develop your team to the best of your ability. Take time to get side by side and show them how you got where you are. Chances are, there will be a spark in some of them you’ve never seen.
- Less stress: You will be far less stressed if you come along side your team than if you’re always looking back, wondering when they’ll start to catch up. And, more importantly, your team will be far less stressed. It creates constant tension when you’re not on the same page. Being at the same spot in the race makes it easier to keep everyone focused and calibrated to their mission.
Question: What can you do to start leading from beside?