I can only imagine how challenging it would be to manage a football team. Similarly, managing high-performing individuals and ensuring they function as a cohesive unit is no easy task. Team managers decide line-ups, strategies and in some cases, who gets transferred in and out. Not the easiest of roles but definitely an important one.
As new leadership opportunities arose, I began to understand that leading from the sidelines was even more powerful than leading from the backline on the pitch. The orchestration of the entire system and its contributing factors to building a successful team on and off the pitch is truly magical when done right. I believe this to be the same for any organisation that wishes to stay sustainable and in business for a long time.
I have been blessed to have been able to work alongside capable and hardworking people and even more blessed to be able to share my experiences and mentor them in ways I never thought were possible. This is something I’ll never take for granted and it is my role now to lead from the sidelines as a new team is built with capable, hardworking and driven individuals who are discovering in themselves their own journeys. From striker to sweeper to team manager, leadership is often misconstrued as being the striker up front and scoring goals.
Leadership can be likened to a tango between people and art that balances the creation of systems and structures that allows people to flourish and flourish well. It is about paying it forward and sharing values so that these people in turn will become better leaders themselves. From what I’ve seen and encountered, value is created when people come together with clarity on their roles and knowledge of what lies ahead for them. For this to be orchestrated, leaders, like team managers, need to cultivate skills on the side to inspire, guide and systemise growth for the team.
As I sip on a cup of AR!SE coffee daily, I remember these words that I jotted down in my notebook:
“When you lead, you don’t always need to be in front. When you’re in front, you don’t always need to be the leader. Importantly, when you’re leading, it is never about you anymore, it is about the people around you and the system that allows people to become better.”
We can only hope for a unified message of what leadership can be and so this is my perspective on how powerful leading from the side can be.