I recently came across a piece written by J. Ashley Panter titled, “The True Meaning of Leading From Behind.” The article opened with a photo of a group of wolves:
The author went on to analyze the wolf pack in a way that genuinely resonated with me.
The three in front (red circle) are not the “leaders” as one might automatically assume; rather, they are merely the most mature and seasoned of the pack. They walk in front to set the pace of the group and guide the rest knowing that, more than likely, if an ambush occurred, they would be the first sacrificed. The next five (yellow box) are considered the most resilient of the pack and are tasked with protecting the front line in the event of an attack. Those further down in the herd line (green square) are also strong — prepared to defend the tail end of the pack when needed. The last wolf pictured (blue arrow) is, in fact, the LEADER. That is the wolf who is responsible for ensuring no other is left behind. The “leader” wolf keeps the pack unified and on the same path, always in the background ever ready to protect and serve as the ‘bodyguard’ for the entire group.
It’s natural to assume that the “leader” would be the one front-and-center… being the symbol of confidence, strength, and guidance. In all actuality, however, leadership isn’t about being the most visible, the loudest, or even the highest valued.
I share the mindset that effective leadership is about ‘leading’ from behind, insomuch as there HAS to be a sincere realization that the ultimate goal is figuring out how to ‘move forward’ together. Not all leaders bask in glory; the best of them strive to ensure their team (aka “pack”) is never left with a member wandering alone along the journey.
*Teamwork makes the dream work*
‘a sheep in wolves clothing’