On a recent bicycle ride to our local grocery store, my daughter and her friends and I formed a line. I took the rear — Tail End Charlie — following behind the youngest and therefore the slowest biker. The girl in the lead took off, enjoying the view, enjoying being in front, and she left the two of us in the dust. We caught up only when the others stopped before crossing a road.
For the return trip, I put the former leader behind the slowest girl, keeping Tail End Charlie for myself. Almost immediately, the girl in the lead took off, enjoying the view, enjoying being in front, leaving the three of us to shift for ourselves. Our former leader now hollered up, “Slow down! You’re going too fast!” She was watching the new leader behave exactly as she had. If she saw the irony, she didn’t show it. She felt the pain though of being left behind. The pain of being so far back that she didn’t even feel like part of the group any more.
When you’re in the lead, how often do you look back? Do you consider the slowest (perhaps the newest?) person on the team? Do you check their tires for proper inflation? Do you keep your team together?
Being a leader entails more than simply being in front. If you’re leading and no one is behind you, then you’re simply out for a ride.
Leaders consider everyone on their team. Leaders ensure that they have the tools to be successful, to keep up with the others. Leaders look out for those behind them.
And the first step to doing that is to pay attention.