October 12, 2022
I was a Boy Scout in my youth and served in a variety of leadership positions as an adult. One of the important skills — drilled into us as boys, and later as men — was the importance of setting a good example. When you start out as a Tenderfoot you simply follow the older boys, and with each step up the ranks you are expected to provide more instruction and guidance to those behind you. Eventually you become a leader — and in the very best troops the boys do the leading with minimal input from the adults. In business we often find people promoted into management who have not been trained in leadership. Leadership is much different than management; as different as coaching is from refereeing. I have worked for people who were great managers but could not get good results from the staff. In other situations the staff would walk through fire for a boss who couldn’t balance a check book. Ever notice how some sports teams can never catch a break? Year after year they lose. Occasionally though, a new coach/owner/general manager will arrive and decades of despair are quickly vanquished, often with the same facilities and players. It is so difficult to analyze why some people can overcome long odds and terrible history while other equally “qualified” people drown in the same old dismal swamp. The best leaders I have worked for were those who were interested in every facet of the operation. They knew what was going on in every department and could seldom be found in their office. They were not afraid to get their hands dirty and were quick to spread the credit when things went well. They were less prone to blame others when the results were not so good. But most importantly, they cared enough to be visible to the entire team. You cannot “Lead from the rear” and expect to win. What kind of leadership are you providing?