Lead from Behind
By: Joel Friedman
The term “Lead From Behind” is often used in leadership conversations. This is a powerful strategy, but only when applied properly. Leading from Behind is incredibly effective when you have built a team of contributors with very strong capabilities, drive, and a solid understanding of the desired path to be taken.
Teams that match the characteristics described above need leaders that are secure, confident, and have the ability to drive their team members to a common goal.
Leaders that effectively “lead from behind” are able to do 5 things very well.
Identify the Path
Leaders that lead from behind start their journey with a clear objective. They are also able to clearly articulate their vision to the team.
Clear the Path
They take responsibility for ensuring that the path is clear for their team to successfully complete their journey. This entails removing all barriers and allowing their team to focus on completing the trip as efficiently as possible. At this point the journey can begin.
Ensure Team Members Stay on the Path
During the journey, the successful “Lead from Behind” leader maintains visibility of the entire team. As team members stray off of the path, the Leader will have the ability to guide these members back onto the path.
Maintain Consistent Team Velocity
As the team moves along the path, the successful “Lead from Behind” leader will ensure that no team member moves too far in front of the pack and no team member falls too far behind the pack. The leader must maintain the appropriate velocity through the journey to ensure that the entire team successfully crosses the finish line. If the leader has team members that fall too far ahead or too far behind, he/she is at risk of losing visibility to the entire team and completing a successful journey becomes problematic and less likely.
Take the Front Line when Necessary
Successful lead from behind Leaders know that during the journey there will be times when they need to step up and get in front of the pack to clear obstacles or even change direction as the need occurs.
Always remember, the winner of the race may be the person who crosses the finish line first, but a successful leader is defined by how many people he/she can lead across the finish line!