October 14 – Leading from behind

October 14. “A good leader takes more than their fair share of the blame and gives more than their share of the credit.” (Arnold Glasnow)

I have had the good fortune to work for some fine leaders in my career. As I have progressed into leadership positions, I have tried to emulate what I thought were the best characteristics that I had observed and experienced.

I am a believer that a good leader frequently leads from behind their team. By that I mean that it is my job as a leader to support them, and get out of their way so they can get their jobs done. If I am out front too much of the time, and the focus is on me, then the contributions of the team can be lost or diminished, and others may see our accomplishments as “my” work rather than “our” work. If I take my place behind them, giving them the support they need, then I am not limiting their progress.

The one time that I consciously choose to stand in front of my group is when something goes wrong. When mistakes are made, and the group has to be accountable to senior management, then it is time for me to be the face of the team. I don’t really like the word “blame”, because to me that seems a bit fatalistic, and too much like a zero sum game. I prefer the notion of accountability. For me accountability implies that I stand up and own what happened, and find ways to make improvements for the future. But always, when these situations arise, I want the focus on me.

There are those who might say that this approach limits my own visibility in the organization. When my team is successful, they get the credit and the public praise. When things go poorly, it is me who has the harsh light shone upon me. That all may be true to some, but to me it is the best way to allow those around me to grow. I place some amount of faith in the idea that those whose opinions truly matter will see how I am leading, and that I will be credited accordingly. But, even if that isn’t the case, it is still the right thing to do, and I will continue to do it this way.

Today my reflection is on leadership, and how I can continue to grow as an effective leader of people who excel.

This entry was posted in Personal Reflections, Reflection 365 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to October 14 – Leading from behind

  1. Mama Ames says:

    It sounds like you are a great leader. I’ve worked for a couple great leaders and a few “OK” ones. It’s when you know that your leader will always have your back when you know you can do your best!


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