Welcome to the back row leader

After some very helpful feedback from well meaning friends and my wife, I agreed to change the name of my blog. I’m really much more interested in exploring leadership than politics on this site. Senators in the Back Row, while offering an interesting word picture, created confusion. Meanwhile, I’ve received good feedback on this name.

I have a theory that you can’t always tell who’s leading a group by the person standing at the front. One of Wycliffe’s senior VPs shared an interesting story with a group of young leaders at Wycliffe. Reflecting back on her years of teaching, she recounted the first day of class one year when she faced an unruly mob that wouldn’t listen. Observing the dynamics, she realized that everyone gravitated toward one particular student.

After class that day, she asked that student to stay afterward. She noted that he was clearly the leader in that classroom, and she could either work with him or they would butt heads all year. If the latter was the case, she was going to make sure that was not a pleasant experience for him. He did not see himself as a leader, but he agreed to try an experiment: when she needed the class’s attention, she would give him a sign and let him call the class to order.

The next day, the class started out with the same mayhem. After a few minutes, the teacher caught the student’s eye and nodded. He turned to his fellow students and said, “Hey, let’s all sit down. Class is starting.” When they all immediately did what he said, he turned to her with eyes as side as saucers — wide in surprise but also some thought to the possibilities of the power he now had. The class went well the rest of the year because the teacher had realized that she wasn’t really the leader in that setting. The student was the power broker. He led from the back row.

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One thought on “Welcome to the back row leader

  1. Pingback: What does a leader look like? Part 1 « the back row leader

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