Lead From the Front or Lead From Behind

Almost everyone has heard that you’re supposed to lead from the front or by example. Recently we’ve heard the term leading from behind. What do these concepts actually mean and how do they relate to leadership? As an observer of leadership tendencies you see all kinds of methods or styles being embraced. I believe that this is not an either or decision but rather a transitional act from one form to the next as followers become ready.

Leading from the Front

Leading from the front or by example simply means we are demonstrating our leadership by going first. In many cases this is accomplished by the leader doing the tough things first to show that they can be done. Its one thing to tell people what to do. It is entirely different when the leader actually shows or demonstrates what needs to be accomplished. How often do we see leaders, not real leaders, tell followers to do things they themselves would not do?

Many real leaders do not believe in asking their team to do anything they themselves would not do. An attitude such as this can often mean a great deal to team members. However, it can also at times be unrealistic. A serious failing that happens to some managers is the inability to delegate. I have heard this before, “It’s easier for me to just go ahead and do it myself than show them how to do it.” This begs the question, every time something new or unusual needs to be done, is the leader expected to do it first? This is very unrealistic for larger organizations and can cause a bottleneck on productivity.

There needs to be a transitional phase where leaders move out of the way let others move forward. This of course can be scary since rise or fall the leader sits on the side. As my youngest daughter is fond of telling me, “Dad I need the freedom to make some mistakes too you know.” It does not mean the leader isn’t there for support. Many leaders need to learn how to lead from behind as well as leading from the front.

Leading from Behind

Leading from behind sounds a bit confusing and seems a little nebulous. If you ask any number of individuals what leading from behind means, you will likely get a number of different answers. It can mean, “I’m not going to do it, you do it.” That probably would end up being a little counterproductive or at the very least create attitude issues with the team members. Leading from behind can have real important meaning if utilized properly.

When leaders move out of the way and let their team take over real growth can take place. Great leaders build teams of individuals that can operate on their own in almost any environment. It is often hard to let go for leaders and let someone else sink or swim based upon their actions alone or lack thereof. If the goal is to build a team of individuals that can be autonomous solving problems or adapting as necessary to fluid situations on their own, then the eagles must be made to leave the nest.

There is a story that when parent eagles feel it’s time for the young to leave the nest the parents will begin removing all of the soft feathers and other soft materials they have built their nest with. As the baby eagles get bigger and bigger the comfortable part of the nest becomes smaller and smaller until it is far too small for the young eagles to sit in comfort. Eventually they leave and start their own lives. As leaders we may have to make our people uncomfortable in order for them to begin to fly on their own and realize that they too can soar like eagles.

This is leading from behind. It is the ability to stand back and let others take the lead. By letting others move to the forefront and experience leadership on their own they begin to become far more creative and productive. Things can and do go wrong. However, the end result for these trusted individuals is the ability start leading the way and is also how leaders multiply themselves.

Charismatic & Entrepreneurial Leadership

Here is another great leadership mantra, get a charismatic entrepreneurial leader to get things going and keep them running smooth. The first danger here to me is that such attempts more often than not fail in real-life business. Just because someone is a charismatic entrepreneurial type of leader, or even that they had success elsewhere, does not guaranty success in the here and now. How often at the medium to large cap level do we see such leaders take on new challenges with new organizations only to make things worse than previously.

The other side of the coin is where the leader is irreplaceable. Look at Apple. When Steve Jobs left earlier in the life cycle of Apple the company stumbled seriously. When he came back they rose again. However, now that he has passed away what will happen? Personally I believe without his visionary leadership, or someone else’s, Apple will eventually slip somewhat into obscurity over time unless the company seriously diversifies. What Apple failed to do before Jobs left the first time was to build a stable platform of individuals who were experienced in leadership roles who could keep things running well without Jobs. Does Apple have that now, I do not know only time will tell.

Fearless Leadership

This is the answer whether you lead from the front or lead from behind you need to be a fearless leader. In the beginning you will most likely have to lead from the front demonstrating commitment and a willingness to do what it takes to successfully accomplish the tasks at hand. At some point you will need to begin to shift to leading from behind for some individuals. There must come a time when a leader can and should step out of the way and let the followers take over. Leaders cannot have such a large ego that they never relinquish control. Very few organizations can grow substantially with such strangled and centralized control. The more de-centralized creativity is the more likely productivity is to increase.

Leadership is more closely identified by both methods over a transitory period of time. You may begin with leading from the front and then over time transition to leading from behind. This is how a healthy leadership system should work. It may be further subdivided into stages that teams, groups, or individuals move through in order to grow to become more creative and productive. As a leader one could find themselves in one stage with one group or individual while simultaneously in another different stage with another group or individual. While one may define leadership accurately on paper, in the real world it needs to be much more fluid and adapted to the particular environment.

How does the fast pace of change impact these concepts?

Management vs Leadership

Management is about achieving organizational goals. It’s about accomplishing this efficiently and productively utilizing control mechanism such as planning, staffing, staffing, and directing resources. You can look throughout any organization and see management and managers at every level. While organizations need management, it cannot replace leadership. Management is about focusing on detailed plans, schedules, and use of resources. Management is focused on what is happening right now, tomorrow, and the next day. Management is always concerned with the bottom-line. Management is looking on how to stay on track.

While management tends to surround themselves with like-minded individuals, leaders tend to surround themselves with a diversity of thinking. You can often envision as the 50ft look at what the organization should accomplish. Although both management and leadership both focus on providing direction, Leadership also provides a creative vision for the organization to frame their activities in. Leadership inspires individuals to see beyond their current work-at-hand. Leadership is looking at the horizon and where they want the organization to go, the destination.

Leadership versus being a boss and Best-In-Class

When one considers leadership, the mistake most often made is to think of leadership as the individual or individuals actually leading a company at the top. While this level of leadership is extremely important to a successful company, it is not enough to become Best-In-Class. Leadership is needed at all levels of a company if the company desires to be Best-In-Class. The difficulty here is that for most companies, individuals are not promoted because of good leadership skills but rather some other skill more closely associated with job performance or personal familiarity with upper managers. What is the norm than is that a company has bosses at low, middle, and often upper management levels rather than leaders?

What is a boss, and how does it differ from a leader? A boss is usually someone who knows a given task or tasks well enough to pass that knowledge on to an individual or group of individuals. A boss is usually also someone who can accomplish the logistics of the position in an efficient and successful manner. These individuals are often promoted not so much because of what they can do but rather based upon who they know. This type of promotion can be considered a consequence of Leader-Member Exchange theory.

Within Leader-Member Exchange Theory the leader, in this case upper managers, creates an in-group and by default, an out-group. Most likely the in-group is the ones often being promoted because of familiarity and not necessarily because of leadership potential. This often provides adequate performance within a position, enough to keep a system like this propagating within a company or industry. But to achieve Best-In-Class more is needed.

With the advent and popularity of teams within companies as a form of improving productivity, many companies are now seeing the need for team leaders. Participative management such as utilizing teams is in most cases a method of moving low or non-productive employees into a much more motivated attitude which in turn increases overall productivity. Giving employees more authority and autonomy can increase job ownership. Increased job ownership will increase a desire for better personal and team productivity and improved quality.

Even teams need leadership. Whether leadership is at the local level, within the team, or from someone above the team providing support for the team, leadership is mandatory for team success. You might say, “Wait we only have a facilitator in our team and we’re successful.” Leadership can take on many different looks and facilitator is one of them. Leadership can be both innate in individuals and it can also be taught. One only has to look at the proliferation of leadership schools available to business to see that many companies see leadership training as one of the most important needs for the successful future of their companies.

How important is true leadership? Once again, without being political you only have to look as far as governments around the world to see firsthand what a leadership vacuum can do on a global economic front. Here in the U.S. are political processes are mired in red tape and inactivity primarily in my opinion as I stated in the beginning of this book, because there is no real leadership anywhere within the U.S. government right now.

If any business desires to be Best-In-Class, then acquiring, building, or promoting real leaders is paramount. Leaders are individuals that people will want to follow. Leaders will inspire or create a motivational environment that generates highly successful subordinates as a natural outgrowth. Motivation is often confused with hype. Bosses can create hype. Leaders generate motivation through inspiration. If you desire to be the best, then find, build, or create leaders. Look for individuals that are already highly self-motivated. These may be individuals who are leaders in the making. Companies must start promoting individuals because of their potential for leadership as one of the primary attributes necessary to move up in a company.

Almost anyone can be administratively and logistically successful. These types of individuals will only create a mundane working environment that breads mediocrity. Only leaders have the ability to garner subordinate behavior and citizenship above and beyond mediocrity and into Best-In-Class.

Lead From the Front or Lead From Behind

Almost anybody has heard that you’re declared to advance from the foreground or by example. Recently we’ve heard the appellation arch from behind. What do these concepts in fact beggarly and how do they chronicle to leadership? As an eyewitness of administration tendencies you see all kinds of methods or styles getting embraced. I accept that this is not an either or accommodation but rather a capricious act from one anatomy to the next as followers become ready.

Leading from the Front

Leading from the foreground or by archetype artlessly agency we are demonstrating our administration by traveling first. In abounding cases this is able by the baton accomplishing the boxy things aboriginal to appearance that they can be done. Its one affair to acquaint humans what to do. It is absolutely altered if the baton in fact shows or demonstrates what needs to be accomplished. How generally do we see leaders, not absolute leaders, acquaint followers to do things they themselves would not do?

Many absolute leaders do not accept in allurement their aggregation to do annihilation they themselves would not do. An attitude such as this can generally beggarly a abundant accord to aggregation members. However, it can aswell at times be unrealistic. A austere declining that happens to some managers is the disability to delegate. I accept heard this before, “It’s easier for me to just go advanced and do it myself than appearance them how to do it.” This begs the question, every time something new or abnormal needs to be done, is the baton accepted to do it first? This is actual unrealistic for aloft organizations and can could cause a aqueduct on productivity.

There needs to be a capricious appearance area leaders move out of the way let others move forward. This of advance can be alarming aback acceleration or abatement the baton sits on the side. As my youngest babe is addicted of cogent me, “Dad I charge the abandon to accomplish some mistakes too you know.” It does not beggarly the baton isn’t there for support. Abounding leaders charge to apprentice how to advance from abaft as able-bodied as arch from the front.

Leading from Behind

Leading from abaft sounds a bit ambagious and seems a little nebulous. If you ask any amount of individuals what arch from abaft means, you will acceptable get a amount of altered answers. It can mean, “I’m not traveling to do it, you do it.” That apparently would end up getting a little counterproductive or at the actual atomic actualize attitude issues with the aggregation members. Arch from abaft can accept absolute important acceptation if activated properly.

When leaders move out of the way and let their aggregation yield over absolute advance can yield place. Abundant leaders body teams of individuals that can accomplish on their own in about any environment. It is generally harder to let go for leaders and let anyone abroad bore or bathe based aloft their accomplishments abandoned or abridgement thereof. If the ambition is to body a aggregation of individuals that can be free analytic problems or adapting as all-important to aqueous situations on their own, afresh the eagles accept to be fabricated to leave the nest.

There is a adventure that if ancestor eagles feel it’s time for the adolescent to leave the backup the parents will activate removing all of the bendable accoutrement and added bendable abstracts they accept congenital their backup with. As the babyish eagles get bigger and bigger the able allotment of the backup becomes abate and abate until it is far too baby for the adolescent eagles to sit in comfort. Eventually they leave and alpha their own lives. As leaders we may accept to accomplish our humans afflictive in adjustment for them to activate to fly on their own and apprehend that they too can arise like eagles.

This is arch from behind. It is the adeptness to angle aback and let others yield the lead. By absolution others move to the alpha and acquaintance administration on their own they activate to become far added artistic and productive. Things can and do go wrong. However, the end aftereffect for these trusted individuals is the adeptness alpha arch the way and is aswell how leaders accumulate themselves.

Charismatic & Ambitious Leadership

Here is addition abundant administration mantra, get a absorbing ambitious baton to get things traveling and accumulate them active smooth. The aboriginal crisis actuality to me is that such attempts added generally than not abort in real-life business. Just because anyone is a absorbing ambitious blazon of leader, or even that they had success elsewhere, does not agreement success in the actuality and now. How generally at the average to ample cap akin do we see such leaders yield on new challenges with new organizations alone to accomplish things worse than previously.

The added ancillary of the bread is area the baton is irreplaceable. Attending at Apple. If Steve Jobs larboard beforehand in the activity aeon of Apple the aggregation stumbled seriously. If he came aback they rose again. However, now that he has anesthetized abroad what will happen? Personally I accept after his abstracted leadership, or anyone else’s, Apple will eventually blooper somewhat into obscurity over time unless the aggregation actively diversifies. What Apple bootless to do afore Jobs larboard the aboriginal time was to body a abiding belvedere of individuals who were accomplished in administration roles who could accumulate things active able-bodied after Jobs. Does Apple accept that now, I do not apperceive alone time will tell.

Fearless Leadership

This is the acknowledgment whether you advance from the foreground or advance from abaft you charge to be a assured leader. In the alpha you will a lot of acceptable accept to advance from the foreground demonstrating charge and a alertness to do what it takes to auspiciously accomplish the tasks at hand. At some point you will charge to activate to about-face to arch from abaft for some individuals. There accept to appear a time if a baton can and should footfall out of the way and let the followers yield over. Leaders cannot accept such a ample ego that they never abandon control. Actual few organizations can abound essentially with such deadened and centralized control. The added de-centralized adroitness is the added acceptable abundance is to increase.

Leadership is added carefully articular by both methods over a concise aeon of time. You may activate with arch from the foreground and afresh over time alteration to arch from behind. This is how a advantageous administration arrangement should work. It may be added subdivided into stages that teams, groups, or individuals move through in adjustment to abound to become added artistic and productive. As a baton one could acquisition themselves in one date with one accumulation or alone while accompanying in addition altered date with addition accumulation or individual. While one may ascertain administration accurately on paper, in the absolute apple it needs to be abundant added aqueous and acclimatized to the accurate environment.

How does the fast clip of change appulse these concepts?

Management vs Leadership

Management is about accomplishing authoritative goals. It’s about accomplishing this calmly and productively utilizing ascendancy apparatus such as planning, staffing, staffing, and administering resources. You can attending throughout any alignment and see administration and managers at every level. While organizations charge management, it cannot alter leadership. Administration is about absorption on abundant plans, schedules, and use of resources. Administration is focused on what is accident appropriate now, tomorrow, and the next day. Administration is consistently anxious with the bottom-line. Administration is searching on how to break on track.

While administration tends to beleaguer themselves with agreeing individuals, leaders tend to beleaguer themselves with a assortment of thinking. You can generally anticipate as the 50ft attending at what the alignment should accomplish. Although both administration and administration both focus on accouterment direction, Administration aswell provides a artistic eyes for the alignment to anatomy their activities in. Administration inspires individuals to see aloft their accepted work-at-hand. Administration is searching at the border and area they wish the alignment to go, the destination.

Leadership against getting a bang-up and Best-In-Class

When one considers leadership, the aberration a lot of generally fabricated is to anticipate of administration as the alone or individuals in fact arch a aggregation at the top. While this akin of administration is acutely important to a acknowledged company, it is not abundant to become Best-In-Class. Administration is bare at all levels of a aggregation if the aggregation desires to be Best-In-Class. The adversity actuality is that for a lot of companies, individuals are not answer because of acceptable administration abilities but rather some added accomplishment added carefully associated with job achievement or claimed acquaintance with high managers. What is the barometer than is that a aggregation has administration at low, middle, and generally high administration levels rather than leaders?

What is a boss, and how does it alter from a leader? A bang-up is usually anyone who knows a accustomed assignment or tasks able-bodied abundant to canyon that adeptness on to an alone or accumulation of individuals. A bang-up is usually aswell anyone who can accomplish the acumen of the position in an able and acknowledged manner. These individuals are generally answer not so abundant because of what they can do but rather based aloft who they know. This blazon of advance can be advised a aftereffect of Leader-Member Exchange theory.

Within Leader-Member Exchange Approach the leader, in this case high managers, creates an in-group and by default, an out-group. A lot of acceptable the in-group is the ones generally getting answer because of acquaintance and not necessarily because of administration potential. This generally provides able achievement aural a position, abundant to accumulate a arrangement like this breeding aural a aggregation or industry. But to accomplish Best-In-Class added is needed.

With the appearance and acceptance of teams aural companies as a anatomy of convalescent productivity, abounding companies are now seeing the charge for aggregation leaders. Participative administration such as utilizing teams is in a lot of cases a adjustment of affective low or non-productive advisers into a abundant added motivated attitude which in about-face increases all-embracing productivity. Giving advisers added ascendancy and freedom can access job ownership. Increased job buying will access a admiration for bigger claimed and aggregation abundance and bigger quality.

Even teams charge leadership. Whether administration is at the bounded level, aural the team, or from anyone aloft the aggregation accouterment abutment for the team, administration is binding for aggregation success. You adeptness say, “Wait we alone accept a facilitator in our aggregation and we’re successful.” Administration can yield on abounding altered looks and facilitator is one of them. Administration can be both congenital in individuals and it can aswell be taught. One alone has to attending at the admeasurement of administration schools accessible to business to see that abounding companies see administration training as one of the a lot of important needs for the acknowledged approaching of their companies.

How important is accurate leadership? Once again, after getting political you alone accept to attending as far as governments about the apple to see immediate what a administration exhaustion can do on a all-around bread-and-butter front. Actuality in the U.S. are political processes are mired in red band and cessation primarily in my assessment as I declared in the alpha of this book, because there is no absolute administration anywhere aural the U.S. government appropriate now.

If any business desires to be Best-In-Class, afresh acquiring, building, or announcement absolute leaders is paramount. Leaders are individuals that humans will wish to follow. Leaders will affect or actualize a motivational ambiance that generates awful acknowledged subordinates as a accustomed outgrowth. Action is generally abashed with hype. Administration can actualize hype. Leaders accomplish action through inspiration. If you admiration to be the best, afresh find, build, or actualize leaders. Attending for individuals that are already awful self-motivated. These may be individuals who are leaders in the making. Companies accept to alpha announcement individuals because of their abeyant for administration as one of the primary attributes all-important to move up in a company.

Almost anyone can be administratively and logistically successful. These types of individuals will alone actualize a banal alive ambiance that breads mediocrity. Alone leaders accept the adeptness to accumulate accessory behavior and citizenship aloft and aloft mediocrity and into Best-In-Class.