Most of us are leaders of some kind or another. Whether it be the leader of your family, a group of friends, a team, or even a person that someone looks up to, you more than likely are a leader whether you want to be or not. Think back on all the leaders you have had and which ones have had the greatest positive impact on your life. I would be willing to bet that many times the people who have had the greatest positive impact on your life are those that walk with you as opposed to those who either walk ahead or behind you. By giving people the power of choice, helping them think through their choices, and then walking on the path with them, strong relationships are built.
I have made the mistake of leading over a group of people and as a result hurt many people and injured many relationships that I am still struggling to repair. It takes a great deal of time and energy to build strong, trusting relationships that are needed to help move any one person and any organization forward. Yet, it only takes a moment and one action to destroy them.
When you are leading, where do you lead from? Are you leading from above, watching over everyone and talking over people? Are you leading from in front or behind, pulling and/or pushing people along when they don’t want to move in the first place? Are you leading from below, holding people up that are continuously sinking on their own? Or, are you going on a journey with the people close to you, helping them, supporting them, and creating stronger relationships along the way that only create stronger people as a result?
You might be thinking that pulling, pushing, and holding people up are the most efficient ways to get them to move, even if only a little bit. And, you are probably right when looking at the short term. However, if you want to nurture someone to become independent, resilient, creative, and a problem solver on their own, you must take the longer path and enjoy the walk with them. The payoff in the end will be much higher.
So, the next time you find yourself in a position of leadership, take a look at yourself and make sure you are only leading from one place, right next to the person or people you are working with. Lead from the side! The payoff in the end will be huge for everyone involved.