I once had a woman describe her relationship with her husband as a struggle to climb the mountain of success. It was as if he was constantly ahead of her on the journey, but she was struggling way behind. She wished that he would love her enough to come back to where she was at and walk the journey with her. She didn’t want a trailblazer shouting from where he was at and telling her where she needed to be.
Leadership is often like that. It can be easy to become a little preoccupied with where we need to be instead of also looking to see who is following us and where we need to take them.
Coming down to their level is not about being condescending, but about realising that people need support from someone who knows where they are and who also knows how to help them inch forward. This usually only happens when there is a strong and patient enough love to put our own agenda aside and to care about the other person’s path.
We can easily fall into the trap of ‘telling’ or ‘visioning’ or ‘preaching’, when leadership is also about ‘showing’. Big picture leadership does need us to inspire people to go from ‘A’ to ‘Z’, but we also need to unpack for people just how it is that they are first going to go from ‘A’ to ‘B’. John Maxwell summarises this balance well when he says that, “Leaders must be close enough to relate to people, but far enough ahead to motivate them”!