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Value Creation Blog

I Like To Lead From The Back

Posted by Josh Patrick

leadershipI’m making an assumption.  I’m assuming that you want to be known as a good leader.  It’s certainly something I want to be known for.

I learned a secret a long time ago.  My secret is really pretty simple.  You don’t have to be in front to lead.  You can lead from the back.

What is leading from the back?

Leading from the back means that you don’t have to be the official leader of a group.  It means you can be part of a team and still have lots of influence.  You can help the team or group figure out what they’re all about.

For me, leading from the back means asking a really good question at the perfect time.  I find that a good question is much more powerful than being the official leader. 

For me, being a leader is about moving a project forward.  It’s about asking a good question.  It’s about helping everyone figure out why we’re doing the project in the first place. 

Because I’m an introvert (those who know me can stop laughing now) I like leading from the back.  I find it more comfortable.  I can step up when I think I need to.  I can lay back when that’s the right thing to do.  It just feels better.

Why is this better than leading from the front?

Leading from the back is not necessarily better it’s just different.  Lots of people want to be the official leader.  I think it’s a good idea to figure out where you’re most comfortable and lead from that place.

You can be just as effective leading from the back as leading from the front.  You can often even get more done from the back.  There are times you’re going to want to step out and there are times when it’s best to lead from the back.  The cool thing about learning to lead from the back is you get to choose when each role is right for you.

If you lead from the back you won’t get any credit.

This is where your ego might get in the way.  Getting credit is not what leadership is about.  Helping others move forward is what a great leader does.  If your good at what you do, you’ll get plenty of credit.  If others don’t recognize what you’ve done, that’s OK too.  The important thing is you’ve moved your project forward.

I see too many people wanting to be the leader for the wrong reason.  Leadership shouldn’t be about you it should be about us.  If you can help us be better I want you as my leader.  If you’re interested in making you better, then I’m probably not going to follow you very far.

For me, it’s about being effective and efficient.

At the end of the day leadership is about moving forward in some project or idea.  I hate wasting time.  I hate having formalities.  This probably goes along with my dislike of job titles.  I don’t have much use for them.  I respect people who can help me be successful.  I don’t care what their title is.

Ask yourself a question, “Am I being effective and efficient?  Am I helping others get to a better place faster?”  If you can answer yes to both questions, then you’re a good leader.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re the official leader, it only matters that your good at what you do.  Isn’t that something you’re interested in?

We’ve written a special report on hiring for unique abilities.  This report talks about how to find the right traits for the right job.  This is all part of finding people who can lead in their own way when they need to.  If you’re interested in this report, click on the button below.


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Topics: business coaching, value creation, collaboration

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