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Monday, October 18, 2010

Leading from the front.


I got that phrase from Zack Even-Esh and it really resonates with me.  I have a buddy who tells me he majored in World Domination in college and I have a feeling he'd agree with this sentiment: leading from the front is what leadership is all about.

There's an old Special Olympics commercial that has a runner going around and showing his back to all his opponents.  He's telling them "This is my back and that's all you're going to see during the race."  That's leading from the front.

Leading from the front doesn't just mean that you're in the front.  There are plenty of people who are at the top of their fields and are really terrible leaders and really poor examples.  For my CrossFit buddies: do you remember Neal Maddox?  That dude is a douche.  Qualified for the Games and was mediocre, but he was a total dick to everyone.  How about Chris Spealler?  One of the nicest guys I've ever met and one of the best CrossFitters alive.

But you can still be offputting and still be a good leader from the front.  Look at Steve Jobs.  By all accounts, he's a control freak, obsessed with perfection, and an absolute pain to work for.  But he's a damn good leader because he can inspire confidence and create an emotional connection with gadgets.  

The point is this: leading from the rear was an old war strategy.  Generals and kings would stay back because, in their minds, if they died the army would fall apart.  Perhaps that was true all those years ago and perhaps that is still true in some situations today (I don't think putting Obama on the front lines in Afghanistan is a good idea).  

However, in the vast majority of civilian situations, the best leaders are those who lead from the front.  They provide examples of behavior, attitudes, and skillsets that stack the deck in their favor.  They're the ones that people look up to, emulate, and talk about all the time.  Lead from the front.  Lead from the heart.

This is my back.



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