On a recent trail run I happened upon a young dad and his little son. The kid looked to be about 4 years old, a bit young for the technical trail I happened to be running.
Predictably, the kid was several steps behind his father who was having no trouble covering the rocks and roots.
As I passed the two, I heard the kids say, “Hey, wait up.” To which the dad, without hesitation, replied, “No, you hurry up.” Ouch . . . Bad Dad!
I wanted to say to the man, “If you want to race someone, race me.” I thought better of it, though, and continued on my way.
As I returned to my car my mind couldn’t help but draw the parallel between what I had just witnessed and a tendency that many leaders have.
Leaders are notorious for leaving others in their wake. Picture a bad boat driver and a fallen water skier.
When it comes to leadership, the highest degree of responsibility in the relationship rests on the leader not the follower. For that matter, in any relationship, the most mature person needs to take responsibility for encouraging those who are weaker.
When leaders fail to pay attention to those they lead people get left behind. The job of a leader is not to “get there first,” wherever “there” is. The job of a leader is to “get everyone there.” And not just there, but there together. On target and on time, which does not always equate to fast.
The dad on the trail was not on a walk, he was on a schedule. But no matter how hard he pushed, the capacity of his son was much less than his own.
So how are you doing as a leader? If you look behind you and no one is following, it might mean you have left the team on the trail. If that is the case, you have ceased to be the leader.
Great leaders understand pace. Everyone’s pace.
I challenge you to stop and check the “heart rate” of your organization. If people are dropping out on you, maybe it is time to slow down and “wait up.”