“Leading from behind”…a newly relevant old concept

There’s an interesting discussion going on right now on the Five Dysfunctions of a Team group on LinkedIn – it’s for those of us who are devotees, if you will, of Patrick Lencioni’s eponymous landmark book.  Someone posted a thoughtful synopsis of a May HBR article entitled “Leading from Behind,” which supports the idea that leaders lead best when they harness people’s collective genius, “create a world to which people want to belong,” and then essentially get out of the way (post is here:  http://bit.ly/bmKOkK ).  It reminded me of Robert Greenleaf’s groundbreaking book “Servant Leadership,” which seems to me to be the genesis of the idea of leading from behind.  Servant leadership, in its most simplistic description, is about removing the obstacles that get in people’s way as they seek to make a meaningful contribution to the work of the organization.  In the article there are a number of thought-provoking concepts, including these:  that leadership is influence, not a box on an org chart or a title on a business card; that authentic leadership is the ability to influence a group of people toward a common goal; and that a wise leader knows when to lead from the front, from among the group, or pushing from behind.  Is leadership, then, not just about doing, but about being?  Your thoughts?


About XpertMCC

Credentialed executive coach, learning and development senior manager/consultant, facilitator and trainer based in Trenton, NJ. Enjoys thinking about and writing on all these topics and more. Favorite quote: "Life is uncertain - eat dessert first!"
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2 Responses to “Leading from behind”…a newly relevant old concept

  1. Hey Joan: what’s your email? We’re having a 55th birthday party for Thomas on Saturday, July 31 at 12 noon ET to 1pm. I’ll send you the invitation if you tell me your email. love, shirley coachmiami@mac.com

    • XpertMCC says:


      So sorry I missed your post here, and very sorry I missed the party. As you’ll see from my most recent post, it’s been an interesting summer. Hope you are well!

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