In his first-rate book, Getting Naked, Patrick Lencioni says, “There is nothing more attractive and admirable than people who willingly and cheerfully set their egos aside and make the needs of others more important than their own.”
In The Message, Eugene Peterson says that at times, leaders need to “practice playing second fiddle….” If you are the “first fiddle” leader, everyone already knows it; you don’t need to hog the spotlight to make sure they know.
One episode of my leadership I’m not too proud of occurred when an important general was going to visit our facility in Nashville to review our progress on a defense project. The visit was arranged by our COO who knew the general personally. As the CEO, I expected to have a role in the program, probably introducing the general to our employees. Guess what? The big day arrived, the platform was set up, hundreds of employees gathered, and my role was…nothing. I wasn’t even part of the plant tour. The COO took care of everything. He introduced the general; he escorted the general on the plant tour; he briefed the general on our project status. Guess what else? The general was pleased and impressed. It was hard for me to accept that it went so well without me. I sulked for days with hurt feelings. I didn’t play second fiddle very well.
One of a leader’s foremost responsibilities is to develop other leaders. There are several reasons you should stay off the platform at times:
I didn’t need to be on the platform when the general visited it. It wasn’t my show. As hard as it was for me, I needed to play second fiddle that day. How about you? How long has it been since you “set your ego aside” and played second fiddle?
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© Copyright 2012 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner