I’ve found one of the most important things to know about leadership excellence is that leaders are not always, in fact rarely, ‘front and center’. Your name may be ‘first’ on the organizational chart, and typically that is as front and center as you may ever get! Leader is more about ‘coming alongside’ another, finding a common ground, sharing, listening, learning, and then guiding to the next step. Keep in mind that ‘next step’ may be lateral, not always up and/or forward.
Leadership is walking another to a place they perhaps never imagined themselves going, and then standing with them. Encouraging, guiding, mentoring, supporting and holding them up. Brushing them off should they stumble and fall and applauding every step of victory. I think of Peter stepping out of the boat onto the water, where was his leader? Right there, extending a hand, holding him up, not letting him sink!
It’s coaching from behind and inspiring should to shoulder, a sense of inclusion, not separation. As Christ commissioned his disciples to go out into the world, he sent them out two by two. He knew as leaders of growing his kingdom they would ‘need each other’. They would require support, feedback and prayer.
I work at ‘coming along side’ 23 adjunct instructors every seven weeks of course study they provide for our students. Some days I am better at it than others. One thing remains constant; none of us can succeed alone. I am blessed with a caring, knowledgeable, and very dedicated team of professional educators, all with incredible gifts and talents, yet at different stages of leadership excellence.
A gauge of success as a leader is what feedback they provide me. That feedback encompasses everything from ‘could you tell me more about that?’ to ‘where can I find….’ or ‘could you provide an example’ or ‘how does this all work again’? This weekend I opened up an email from one of my teacher leaders who wrote, “You make adjunct faculty feel like we are part of the group.” What’s even better is that she was specific with the things she felt I do right. What a great way of letting me know what to keep providing, yet with ample room to reflect on ways to improve. So, who is leading whom? Side by side – allows leaders to learn from fellow leaders.
Leadership isn’t always standing ‘front and center’ – mostly it’s about ‘side to side’.