A couple of weeks ago I purchased what had to be a late nineteen-eighties something teaching of John Maxwell called “Second and Satisfied.” It was classic leadership from Maxwell that highlighted the qualities of what he referred to as “second” leaders who supported their primary leader. His list included his wife, his secretary, and his right hand man for many years Dan Reiland. He stressed the importance of each of these individuals and how without them his leadership would be incomplete and his success would be very limited. The question emerged as I was listening and reflecting on my personal leadership journey: “
How do you become a BackSeat Leader that is thought of as the backbone or the “go to” person for a leader and their organization?
The word become means to begin to have a specified quality. When I think of where the qualities of BackSeat Leadership specifically begin the first word that comes to mind is servanthood. Service for the Backseat Leader is the road to greatness. They find great joy and strength in serving diligently, most of the time without recognition or retribution. BackSeat Leaders are usually the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave. They’ve checked their ego’s at the door and see themselves as an equal partner and not the essential person in the scheme of things. They are thrilled about the idea of people working with them and not people working for them. The are great team players and will always put the teams best interest ahead of their own even if it is to their detriment. They will take one for the team in a heartbeat, without hesitation!
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant. – Matthew 20:26 (ESV)
I was somewhat forced to start forming this attitude of a servant in my life even before I became a Christian. It was the last football game of my senior high school season. It was a win or go home situation. I was focused and pumped up during my pre-game ritual when I was approached by our head football coach. He asked if I’d be okay with not playing most of the game for match up purposes. I was physically undersized and the junior behind me was a better match up on paper. Though I was devastated, I humbly accepted my roll and only played on special teams the entire game. We ended up winning the game because the other team missed a game winning field goal with time running out. Though it was a huge blow to my ego at the time, our team winning the league championship to this day is still one of those great memories and moments in my life.
I share this story because it was a humbling experience I rather not reveal. BackSeat Leaders grasp and embrace the quality humility. They don’t see them selves better than other people, but they pride themselves in making others better. No other person throughout history demonstrated this better than Jesus Christ.
Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus… - Philippians 2:3-5 (CEB)
As I consider the becoming of a BackSeat Leader it’s really about what they are not becoming. A BackSeat Leader is secure in being second. They are more interested in towels than titles and more concerned about their own personal satisfaction than their paid salary. Their becoming really is an unbecoming of what the world defines as successful leader.
Do you see yourself as a BackSeat Leader or a Primary Leader? Please leave a comment. I would love to know more about the kind of leader you see yourself as.