A few posts ago, I talked about the idea of leading in the corner. You can read it here. Here’s a bit more on the idea.
We tend to think of leaders as “up front” or “in charge.” These concepts can be helpful at times, but also create poor practice for leaders who overdo them. A fair amount of leading is not about the big tada in front of the group. It’s not about grand speeches or frequent reminders of how important I am. There is a signficant amount of leading that is invisible (so to speak) because it happens in the corner of the room, in a quiet hallway, over lunch or coffee.
Leading in the corner comes from creative and relentless conversations that leaders have with people. These conversations nudge people toward the accomplishment of a shared vision. These conversations encourage people to keep going. These conversations are about listening. They are about coaching. They are about development. They are about connecting the passion of the individual to the mission of the organization. They are hard work. They are sometimes fun and sometimes painful and sometimes “neutral.” These conversations, and the leading that occurs through them, sustain energy and create meaningful connections–of all kinds.
This is not glamorous stuff. No one applauds at the end. There is no large group laughing at your jokes. There is not necessarily the rush of the “big moment.” There is a place for these types of moments. They can be powerful and special. But they are not the bread and butter of leading.
Leading is the hard work of “walking with” in order to “move along.” You’ll find the best leaders as comfortable in the corner–sharing ideas, creating experience, developing people– as they are courting the crowd or the “big wigs.”