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Second Fiddle – Part 1 of 2

Yesterday, I linked to a post by Mark Batterson about being a forward-looking leader.

At the time, I said, “’nuff said.”

But today, I’m going to take a little time to expand on Mark’s post.

As I look back over my life, the post spoke to me on two levels . . .

First, I have spend a lot of time being “second fiddle” in various organizations. Whether it be in ministry (i.e. at a Campus Ministry in college or at Journey Church), or in the marketplace (architecture), I have come to understand completely (both positively and negatively) Mark’s comments about how forward thinking leaders affect those in the #2 position.

When #1 leaders above you are forward-thinking and communicating their vision, the #2 leaders are energized to dream themselves and to advance the organization with great enthusiasm. A forward-thinking atmosphere breeds movement and growth. I have been a #2 leader in such organizations. It’s an awesome place to be. You have the utmost trust and appreciation for those above you and you will do anything to help them and protect them. You feel like nothing can stop you.

When #1 leaders begin investing too much time in maintenance and lose track of forward-thinking, the #2 leaders behind them begin to dream beyond the leaders over them and they get frustrated tripping over today to get to tomorrow. When #2 leaders get stuck behind a #1 leader who is not forward-thinking, they either need to push the #1 leader to think forward more, or they need to move on. If not, the #2 may cause more harm than good. When they are frustrated, the people they influence will get frustrated. This disrupts unity and leads to all sorts of other problems.

The other warning I would have for the #1 leaders out there: You can lose your forward-thinking perspective very quickly and easily. I’ve been #2 in organizations that are rocking and rolling and doing all sorts of awesome stuff. At some point, the #1 leaders’ thinking shifted from forward-thinking to “feeding the machine” (as one friend called it). It wasn’t overnight, but it was very quick. Within just a couple of months, the entire organization can come to a grinding halt. I’ve seen it more than once, both in ministry and the marketplace. It’s really scary.

I’ll continue tomorrow . . .

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