Updated: Dec 15, 2019
5 AM Wake-up/Day 3/No Snooze
Extreme Ownership (Willink & Babin) is full of valuable leadership lessons. Last night, I came across an idea that I'd been thinking about for a while.
Leadership gets misunderstood. Conventional wisdom might tell you that the job of the leader is to be at the front of the pack, with everyone else following behind them. I think this is wrong.
To lead can mean a lot of things (here is the Google definition make sure to expand the selection). My favorite options based on the definition (that you probably didn't click on) is option 3: be in charge or command of; organize and direct. Definition number 1 is cool too: cause (person or animal to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.
Okay, they are all my favorite, but I'm not going to write them all down here.
My definition: The job of a leader is to lead a group or team toward the accomplishment of a collective objective. (I didn't even rhyme on purpose, it just flowed naturally)
In chapter 8, Jocko's definition of the collective objective is "the ultimate goal of the mission."
Leading doesn't require being in the very front. This position will likely inhibit a leader's effectiveness. Some leaders might want to lead from the back, to keep the stragglers from getting too far behind. This position will also inhibit effectiveness.
The idea I've been tossing around in my head is leading from the middle. Willink believes that the "proper position" for a leader is "somewhere in the middle." Thanks for the confirmation (as opposed to conformation...some leaders want their subjects to conform, I want my people to be empowered to think for themselves, with the collective objective guiding that thought...but that is an idea for another day).
Operating from somewhere in the middle allows the leader to observe what is going on at both ends of the pack, without being too far forward or too far back. This position provides a better opportunity for the leader to be connected with the needs of the group and in place to address those needs efficiently and effectively.
Leadership is about your people, not you. Position yourself where you are connected to the pulse of your organization. Lead from the middle, hold their hands when they need it, poke and prod when they need it. Keep moving forward.