Your family legacy and/or your business legacy will fail or succeed depending on the position you are leading from.
The title “Leading From Behind” is confusing when you think about it. Doesn’t leading indicate being out front? The answer is yes…and no. Leading does indicate being out front, BUT:
The greatest leaders eventually lead from behind.
The leadership journey usually happens in 3 stages:
If you skip the first 2 stages you will never make it through the 3rd stage. Heck, if you do the first 2 stages, but do them poorly, you will not make it through the 3rd stage.
There have been some great, seemingly successful businesses enjoy their season of success only to see the business crumble when the leader who got them there stepped down from the leadership role. The problem? The leader failed to lead from behind using the 3 stages of the leadership journey listed above.
The same sad story of “from success to failure” happens often times in families. There is no preparation and practice from Mom and Dad in developing their kids to lead their future families. So as a result, the kids don’t stand a chance to make it through stage 3, perseverance. The Mom and Dad did a great job (seemingly) in raising their kids for a season, but failed to continue to lead from behind.
There is one main quality that leaders who lead from behind share…HUMILITY. I don’t have time in today’s blog to delve into all the reasons why humility is so important. Sufffice it to say that humble leaders are much more impactful than prideful leaders. AND, it takes a humble leader to lead from behind.
There are 3 types of leaders:
1) It’s all about me. This leader always stays out front. The focus is always on him or her. This leader has a lot of charisma and is usually very good at what he does, but when he leaves the leadership role, the business, organization, or family is left in chaos and falls apart.
2) It’s still kinda all about me. This leader thinks he is developing new leaders but he has a problem with taking a step back and letting his successor step forward. He gives the responsibility to his successor but not the authority. He’s not out front, he is side by side with his successor but because he is so controlling, he is not allowing his successor to stumble. This type leader is still calling the shots.
3) It’s all about my successor. This type leader knows how and why he should lead from behind. He knows the attributes of a leader and searches for his successor accordingly.
He leads out front for a season: He models leadership for his successors.
He leads side by side for a season: He allows his successors to stumble and make mistakes, then provides correction and encouragement. He doesn’t allow life altering mistakes but he does allow mistakes. He understands what a great teacher pain can be.
He leads from behind ensuring a great legacy. Leading from behind doesn’t mean leaving the leadership role all together. You are always there for encouragement, mentoring, correcting. The leader has his hand on his successor’s back and is gently pushing him forward. Before you know it, the new leader is out front. The transition was so gradual, that it happened almost unnoticed.
My kids used to be known as Keith Rushing’s kids. Now I’m known as Chris Rushing, Kevin Rushing and Katie Rushing’s Dad!
I’m still their leader, I’ve just changed positions!
Jesus modeled this process perfectly.
His last three years were spent preparing and practicing with His disciples. He lead from the front, modeling how to lead. He lead them side by side, sent them out two by two. He not only gave them responsibility, He gave them authority; allowing them to make mistakes and gently correcting and encouraging them. Mark 6:7
He then stepped back and nudged them forward. He even told them they would do greater things than He had done. Talk about HUMILITY! John 14:12
Jesus’ leadership style worked and is working. Followers of Jesus are still persevering 2000 years later! Jesus is still leading…leading from behind. He is still there when we stumble to provide encouragement and correction.
Our country needs more leaders who lead from behind!
What kind of leader are you?