The Fundraising Leadership team (David, Silvia, Michelle and I) have all completed the CTI Leadership program. This program rejects the top-down, one-dimensional leadership model and expands our definition of leadership.
This new model is grounded in the idea that everyone is a leader because “leaders are those who are responsible for their world.”
Co-Active Leadership defines five ways to lead:
- Leader Within – living from the inside out rather than the outside in
- Leader In Front – generating connection and inspiration
- Leader Behind – generous, openhearted service to others
- Leader Beside – leaning in 100 percent
- Leader In the Field – letting go of what is known and proven
Successful leaders need to master all of these dimensions and be able to pivot and move through them with ease.
In a previous post, I explored the dimension of Leader Within. Today I want to explore the power of Leading from Behind.
Following with Intention:
Leading from Behind does not mean taking a back seat. In this role you are responsible for choosing who to follow and why. You need to trust the Leaders in Front. You also need to be willing to challenge ideas and ask questions. Think about your own organization and what you can do to further your commitment to the Leaders in Front (perhaps your Manager, CEO or Board Chair). How can you communicate your commitment to encourage your team to fully commit themselves to a greater vision?
Being of Service:
The essence of Leading from Behind is service to others. You focus on providing whatever is needed to achieve a shared vision. You do so with openhearted and enthusiastic participation. There is no place for ego when you open your heart to serve. What more can you do to move your organization towards its vision?
Anticipating What is Needed:
Leaders in Front need to look ahead, create a vision, and decide where a team should go. When you are Leading from Behind you also need to look ahead and anticipate what the team might need as it moves towards that vision. Your job is to help the team discover new ideas and learn. You are not trying to eliminate the setbacks and failures that are important to the learning process. You are trying to avoid the struggles that come from insufficient planning. What can you do to ensure your team is ready for what is coming?
When you are Leading from Behind it is crucial that you focus on finding others right. In our leadership training we borrow from the world of improv. The foundation of improv is the “Yes And” exercise. This mindset allows you to accept, appreciate and build on the ideas of others. Our default is often to “No But” ideas. It might sound like, “we have tried that before and it didn’t work.” What more can you do to adopt a “Yes And” mindset and create possibilities?
In many ways Leading from Behind is a coaching / mentoring role. Like all good coaching, this begins with a commitment to developing your ability to listen. Two additional coaching skills are crucial to success in this leadership dimension – acknowledgement and championing. When you acknowledge someone you express a belief in their character and inner strength. It might sound like “you are a person of integrity and stood up for what you believe during that meeting.” Championing encourages a person to take risks for the sake of their growth. How can you grow your coaching skills in service of your team’s success?
On a personal note, since October I have had the honour of being a Leader Behind in CTI’s 10-month leadership program. I am heading to Asheville next week for another retreat and looking forward to expanding my ability in this area.
If you interested in strengthening your ability to lead from behind, we would love you to join us in June for our next Coaching Essentials Online course.
Janice Cunning is a Leadership Coach who is passionate about partnering with fundraisers to help them create an inspired vision that transforms lives. She is a Certified Relationship Awareness Facilitator who uses SDI to strengthen team dynamics.