Leading From The Sidelines
I've had some level of knee pain most of my adult life. I was diagnosed with patela-femoral pain syndrome while in the Marines and have sprained or twisted my knees numerous times. Recently, I've found myself leaning on a crutch again, literally. I've reinsured my left knee which means I have trouble just getting around much less walking up on stage and teaching. On top of that, I've had a couple days where the medicine I'm having to take has not left me in a great place. The thing about it is, we have to continue to press on. So how do I lead when I can't be out front?
1) Be a cheerleader. I've always been a football fan, especially SEC football, and even more so, LSU football. (Now don't worry, I'm not going to get off on any rants) I pay attention to stats, names, scores, standings, etc like any good football fan should. There's been some things I've noticed this year. Leonard Fournette is a giant among men, but I think most of the country has recognized that, and Brandon Harris has emerged not only as a great quarterback but a great leader. What I love seeing of him is how he is on the sidelines when the defense is on the field. He's giving high fives and encouraging his team. He's cheering on his Tigers! I have to be able to do the same! I have to be my team's biggest cheerleader, cheering them on to greater things! This is true of me now while injured and true always. I've learned from experience my team performs better when they know I have their back. They rise to the occasion!
2) Replace yourself. This isn't so much a next man up as it is the right next man up. So many sports teams have adopted the 'next man up' strategy. The programs that have done this best are the ones where the players have invested in their back ups instead of just the coaches. For them to no only teach the play book but give them as much in game knowledge as they can. To let them know what to expect from different players on the team. I have, and try to continue to, prepare one particular young man to take over for me at any moment. Granted, this has to be someone willing and able and I'm very blessed to have someone like this. What I can't do is just anticipating him learning by watching me do what it is that I do. I have conversations with him regularly, give him time to ask questions, and opportunities to try things. This is really true of our entire team but especially with this young man. Don't just assume someone can fill in for you if you're ever out, make sure they can.
3) Get out the way. The best leaders teach their teams to lead and then give them the lead. I guess I could also say don't micromanage. I need to be their for guidance, critique, and under rare circumstances, damage control but not over the top, making sure it's exactly how I want it done. When we give our teams the lead we have to understand that they may not do things exactly the way we do them. That's okay! I know for me, my team understands the vision, mission, and purpose of what we do but they lead the way they lead. That needs to be true of every team. They need to understand the vision and direction of the organization but they need to have the freedom to be themselves.
I'm so blessed and fortunate to have a team in place that allows me to miss when I need to. That may be because of an injury or that I need to be with my family. I'm still learning to lead without being in the lead but I think these things are HUGE steps in the right direction. May this encourage you and as always, the ORDINARY team is here to help or serve in any way we can.