Who Can You Help Lead From Behind?

Happy Tuesday to all. It was a very successful weekend and is looking to be an amazing week for our family.

My wife and I and 200 plus others helped a local charity at an annual golf outing. It has been cancelled for the past couple of years and it was good to be back to see so many familiar faces again. Genuine “I’ve missed you” hugs, for folks that are like family. For myself and our foursome, it is not about the score on the golf card, and trust me, for many it is. It is about the scores of funds that were donated during the event. While attendance was down this year, it appeared as if this family came to support.

At the end of this week, my wife and I will watch our youngest daughter get married. As I prepare my speech, the emotions begin to build. I know that I have to practice the emotion in order to know how to avoid it on the day. My Daughter will be marrying into a very strong Lebanese family and for this, I have been practicing a single sentence that my future son-in-law prepared for me, in his families dialect. Nothing like adding an extra challenge for an Ohio boy who grew up in the country. I am setting my suit, bowties, and boots out for the big day. Making sure that I do just enough to compliment my wife and how amazing she is going to look.

I mention the above item on this tremendous Tuesday as an example of how we all can take a step back and lead from behind. The golf outing is not for my wife and I. And yet every year, she reaches out for volunteers to help the 200-300 golfers. I organize my foursome, encourage others to register, and look to local vendors to create baskets for the raffle.

For the wedding of our daughter, she is the star, followed closely by her husband, then mom, and then dad is a distant, well something.

While we have roles in the above events, we are not the ones who have the ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of these events. The above tasks were not delegated to us, but that does not prevent us from creating opportunities to lead from behind. In gathering up donations for raffle baskets, volunteers, and golfers, we have the opportunity to have an impact and help drive the success of the outing. It is the vision and sacrifice of the leaders that provide my wife and I an opportunity for greater success in our efforts to contribute.

The reason for the Lebanese sentence at the beginning of my speech is not a look at me moment. Although, it will feel good to nail it. No, the purpose is to create an opportunity for community of the two families. My daughter and her husband, because of their love, commitment, and friendship, has presented us an opportunity to be in the same room with 200 people we may have never met. For my part in helping them, my gesture is to extend that appreciation of community to the entire room.

As leaders of an organization, family, non-profit, etc, there are designated people with the written or unwritten title of leader. For my daughters wedding, she is both written and unwritten. That is the way it is with the bride. Providing members of our organization the autonomy to extend into their individual talents and desires provides an opportunity to create a special place for them in your “community”. Dictating the desired end result is necessary in most projects. However, by leaving room for suggestions, conversation, and clarification, it means that we are allowing folks to come to the table with their own creativity. Ideas that may spark other ideas, and so on. Next thing you know, the whole room is on board and excited to see how their piece impacts the entire puzzle. And while the project processes may look different, the expectations for the project result remain the same. Research shows that the quality of the work being done is just better when people feel as if they are provided an opportunity to leave their little mark, many times not needing any praise.

People like to lead from the shadows, to contribute and to be part of something great. They do not view that as “leadership” and therefore they are comfortable. Leading from behind provides safety and security. My challenge for you today as you plan your week:

What can you do to encourage someone on your team to lead from behind?

What can you do to help develop buy in by genuinely providing your team with opportunities for growth?

This takes time. You have to be available for questions. You will want to be patient and hone in on how each individual’s creative process works.

You will truly want to care about the individual growth and satisfaction of each member of the team.

Not everyone can see the big picture the same as you. They can visualize the small steps it takes to get there.

Show your team how to lead from behind, by providing discussion opportunities about important events. Genuinely listen and entertain their suggestions. Research shows time and again, that the best ideas are not the first ones. But the variation of all the ideas that came up during the planning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: