The most successful leaders have the ability to “lead from behind.” That is, they are able to motivate and encourage their team to meet the intended goals and objectives, without being involved in every step of engagement. In essence, the team is motivated sufficiently, in and of themselves, without the continuous management and oversight of the leader.
Leading from behind commences with instilling a degree of dedication and commitment within the team, not merely a willingness to conform (i.e. “I do it because my boss told me I have too”).
Here are three means by which you can build inner team dedication and commitment:
- Lead by example. Always demonstrate the persona you expect team members to embrace. For Ron Washington to bring the Texas Rangers to the World Series two years in a row is a tremendous feat. Particularly when you consider the degree of inner strength the team must have possessed to overcome such a setback in 2010, in order to aggressively pursue (and come within one game) of achieving their goal yet again.
- Encourage and support inter-team reliance. Encouraging and creating collaboration, camaraderie and trust among team members are the key to building team strength. Despite the speculation around Apple’s demise following the untimely death of Steve Jobs, Apple will continue to dominate the technology world as a result of the inner team reliance and strength that was instilled during Jobs tenure.
- Be honest and forthright. Be open and honest in your communications (tell it like you see it). Always maintain composure, but don’t be afraid to show frustration (you are human after all). Like him or not, Bill Clinton was one of the most popular presidents, despite his personal shortcomings, mostly as the result of his honesty and willingness to demonstrate his humanity. Recall the SNL skit of Clinton stopping in at a McDonalds while out for a jog, a parody on Clinton that was one of the most popular skits that Phil Hartman ever did.
Leading from behind is a strategy that builds upon team strength, and creates a self-sufficient and sustainable team focused on achieving their goals, without continuous oversight from the leader. A necessity for any team in a fast paced and time sensitive world.
© Shawn Casemore 2011. All rights reserved.