Riding Against The Wind – 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Lead Alone

Bicycle DraftingThe wind was against me and I was struggling to make headway.

A stronger rider passed on my left and I figured I would try to draft behind him to see if I could take advantage of him cutting through the wind ahead of me. It worked. My ride was noticeably easier.

After a short distance he noticed what I was doing, motioned for me to ride up alongside him, and suggested that we take turns drafting. Over the next 5 miles we took turns leading and drafting, sharing the work of riding against the wind and reaping the benefit of drafting in each other’s wake.

As a leader, have you ever felt like you were the only one riding into the wind? It seems like you’re always the one in front absorbing the full impact of everything the workplace throws against you and your team. You wish you had someone to cut the wind ahead of you, but you don’t, and it leaves you feeling battered, demoralized, and exhausted.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

My recent bike ride reminded me that leadership, just like biking, doesn’t have to be an individual sport and often works better in a shared context. Here’s five reasons why you shouldn’t lead alone:

1. Share the burden – Sharing leadership can be more efficient and productive than leading alone. By drafting with the other rider, I increased my speed and lowered my time around the 5 mile course. You don’t have to be the only one in charge of everything, so leverage the skills and abilities of those around you to make your job a little bit easier. Many hands make the burden light.

2. Tame the ego – Power has an intoxicating influence that can easily ruin your integrity as a leader. All you have to do is examine the news headlines to see this happening everyday. Sharing the power and responsibility of leadership builds an accountability structure around you that keeps your ego in check and your leadership on course.

3. Better leadership – Sharing leadership can allow you to maximize complementary skill sets among people that leads to more effective leadership overall for your team, department, or organization. Some organizations intentionally pursue a Co-CEO model for this very reason. In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing business climate, combining the efforts of leaders can result in powerful gains for the organization.

4. Camaraderie and support – I was alone and struggling on my bike ride, but when I started working together with a fellow rider, I immediately felt the camaraderie and support that encouraged me to keep going. Leadership can be a lonely trek, but sharing the journey with others allows for mutual support and encouragement that keeps everyone’s spirit and morale high.

5. Keep pace – Partnering with the other rider allowed me to maintain a faster pace than riding alone. When he was in the lead I fed off the challenge of keeping up with him so I could reap the benefits of riding in his slipstream. When it was my turn to lead, I didn’t want to disappoint him by slowing down the pace so I worked even harder than I would have if riding on my own. Sharing leadership can help everyone up their game and perform at higher levels than they would individually.

Before you string me up as a leadership heretic, let me say I’m talking more about the process of leadership rather than the actual position. In most situations there needs to be someone with the final responsibility to make the “go/no-go” decision, but the process – the way in which leadership is manifested in an organization – often works better when it’s shared among individuals.

What are your thoughts? Do you have experience with shared leadership models? Feel free to leave a comment.

About Randy Conley

Randy is the Vice President of Client Services & Trust Practice Leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He works with clients around the globe helping them design & deliver training and consulting solutions that build trust in the workplace and oversees Blanchard's client delivery operations. He has been named a Top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. Randy holds a Masters Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego and enjoys spending time with his family, bike riding, and playing golf. You can follow Randy on Twitter @RandyConley where he shares thoughts on leadership and trust.
This entry was posted in Leadership, Power, Relationships, Responsibility, Servant Leadership, Sports, Success. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Riding Against The Wind – 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Lead Alone

  1. Great analogy Randy. Terrific post.

  2. Pingback: Riding Against The Wind – 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Lead Alone | kwalitisme

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  4. Hi Randy, I also enjoyed the analogy. We really can’t do it all,and when we do not only do we suffer but also our team and our organization. I am currently learning share the burden. When I delegate i also have to give up control.

    • Randy Conley says:

      Thanks for your comments Jon. Control-issues lie at the heart of many of our leadership challenges and learning to give it up via delegation is a skill I need to work on too!

      Take care,

      Randy

  5. Barb says:

    Such a refreshing read after thinking about Baseball Garza’s attack on the wife of an opponent, your timely post about taming the ego seems so appropriate. Leaders understand that not everything is about them and you don’t need to go on the attack. I love the idea of not wanting to disappoint the other person so you work harder. Great read.

  6. IAm Synt says:

    This is awesome. Thank you.

  7. IAm Synt says:

    Reblogged this on IAm Synt and commented:
    An awesome post.

  8. Rick R. says:

    My wife and I started a business together not despite our differences but because of our differences. We each hold enormous respect for the other’s strengths which allows us to defer to the other depending on the subject matter of the decision being made. We’ve been co-leading since day one. It must be working. We started in 1991.

  9. Anand Srinivasan says:

    Thanks Randy for ths posting. I believe in Collaboration effort for successful results..

  10. Great description of how high performing teams work together.

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