Leading by Following

2nd March 2013

Saturday morning (or in my case around noon) runs outside are quite possibly one of my favorite parts of the week. Over the last few years, these mornings have progressed from dreaded training runs with strict milage goals to casual time on the trails to step back and enjoy some time by myself – whether that be three miles or 10.

This morning, I brought along my favorite running buddy, a sixty pound little pup who also happens to love exploring just as much as I do. Atlanta is surrounded by some gorgeous hiking trails, which once we are far enough off the beaten path, lend the perfect spot for some leash-less sprinting (shh, don’t tell the park rangers).

My running buddy, she's also quite the soccer champ.

My running buddy, she’s also quite the soccer champ.

As we wound about amongst the trees and the mud, I found myself tailing behind my little girl at times and calling for her to join me when she was distracted by a chipmunk or two and had to stop for a sniff at others. Leaders and followers we were.

A mentor of mine and I had a discussion a few months back about leadership not being a title that one is given with age, job description or pay grade. It is something we embody in every daily interaction in which we partake. Leadership means accepting humility and trusting those around you. It is building the talents and confidence of others and encouraging them to carry on and improve.

We often look to becoming a leader in the form of managing others – the same way a master would expect a dog to behave on a leash and do as he/she is told. However, it’s easy to tell a dog to stay with you when they are attached by a rope, it’s another exercise to let them go and watch them stay in your path.

When you build up those around you, turn over your trust and your faith to another, and follow their lead; you just might find yourself becoming a leader who enjoys the view from both sides of the path – something I’m learning to love.

Leadership is certainly not a virtue that develops overnight, whether that be on a dirt trail with a dog, or in the office with coworkers. It’s something we all have to work for, every step along the way, and I must admit, following a little pup through the woods, might be the best form of leadership I can think of, not to mention added growth and endurance for both of us.