If I could explain to you one thing about leadership it would be to forget about the term leadership. I believe that the word has been taken over by ego-driven folks. What I would love us to understand is that leadership is about the relationship between yourself and the project/event/business that you are involved with. “What can you do to help it progress well? What are you willing to do?”

When we usually think of a leader we think about the person on top or in front. And you know what, that works appropriately when we are talking about a horse race or counting points. But it doesn’t fare too well when it comes to people. At least not in the ideal manner. We all have this tendency to want to be the BIG chief or the commander.

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I remember when I was working as a residential counselor at a group home; I was considered to be the leader of the home from the outside looking in. But I knew that if I didn’t find the “true” leader (another young man) in the home I couldn’t lead the home well. I’ve found that when leading people it’s best to find the person who really is the leader…the influential person. Without that young man on my side I don’t have real control of what happens in that home.

When I needed something done in the home I told him and he rallied everyone else. And they listened. He brought many people in line with what I was trying to accomplish in the home. I was the positional leader, but the person who really led was, from the outside looking in, “smaller” in status…But from my point of view, the most important piece.

An old gardener while laying a stone wall in a country estate was asked by the owner why he used so many small stones along with the large ones. “It’s like this,” he said, “these stones are like men. Many small men like me are needed to keep the big ones in place. If I leave small stones out, the big ones will not stay in place and the wall will fall.”    – S. Kenrick Guernsey

The important thing is to be able to understand that.

Someone asked a famous conductor of a great symphony orchestra which orchestral instrument he considered the most difficult to play. The conductor thought a moment, then said: “Second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists. But to find one who can play second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddles, we have no harmony!”

When working at the group home, I was truly second fiddle and I played it well! To be this type of person you have to be able to see the BIG picture. I’m just happy that while I was there, the young man didn’t recognize he was “the leader”!

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