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Friday, August 30, 2019

Lean Quote: Leaders Aren't Always Out Front

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd." — Max Lucado, Christian author and preacher

Most people think that leaders are the people who are out in front, the most visible and the loudest.

The most effective leaders I know, though, are the ones who are nearly invisible. They don’t have to be present to have a strong presence. They don’t need or want center stage. They may send subtle cues and coordinate from behind-the-scenes. But then they get out of the way and let others be at the forefront.

Highly esteemed leaders don’t spend all their time on stage. They spend time listening to other people. They are open to hearing the ideas of people at all socioeconomic or workplace levels. They seek diverse opinions. They challenge what isn’t working. They aren’t so enamored with their own ideas that they tune out what others have to say.

I more respect the leaders I’ve know who are humble enough to continually learn and strong enough to stand alone when the crowd is not with them. They listen and learn and take in new information – not because they will be carried along by popular opinion but because they care enough to understand the perspectives of others. If they do not agree after listening to and considering others’ opinions, they take a stand on their own position. They don’t do it secretly, behind closed doors when they think no one is listening. They stand tall and proud outwardly. They don’t try to play both sides.

A leader needs to know when to lead, when to follow, and when to turn his or her back to the crowd. In order to have the discernment it takes to know when and how to do all three is what makes an extraordinary leader. That discernment comes from a strong moral compass, from openness and humility, and from an intent to truly serve the people being led.

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