How To Maximize The Impact Of “On The Way” Leadership

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To increase your sense of satisfaction as a leader, shift your focus away from the destination and focus instead on the journey. Your satisfaction level will soar.

Most leaders focus almost exclusively on “destination leadership”.

That’s the emphasis on leading from the head of the conference table, from the white board in front of the leadership team, or from the podium at the front of the room.

In other words, these and other similar focus points are where many leaders focus their preparation and anticipate delivering their greatest leadership results.

But effective leaders achieve great leadership results, and derive their greatest satisfaction, in the most unlikely of places.

This is “on-the-way leadership.”

You can learn this principle by studying the greatest leaders of all time. As a person of faith, I learned the impact of on-the-way leadership by learning about the transformational leadership of Jesus.

It is uncanny how much of what Jesus accomplished he did while “on the way” to someplace else.

Whether it was a teaching moment, a chance to encourage someone, or indeed an opportunity to perform a miracle, Jesus consistently demonstrated some of his most profound leadership not just at his destination, but while he was still on the way.

Effective leaders can learn something from this.

On-the-way leadership takes place when you seize a coaching moment to help a teammate learn from a mistake. It takes place when you provide a timely word of encouragement to someone who’s shoulders are sagging. It takes place when you ask for feedback from staff members who happen to be walking by your office door.

How does it work? On-the-way leadership has four key components:

1. Intentionality

On-the-way leaders are always on the lookout for leadership moments wherever they are.

2. Margin

Leaders who frantically operate at Mach 10 speed rarely have the time or bandwidth to take advantage of on-the-way moments.

3. Flexibility

You need to be able to take a detour in your carefully planned day if you’re going to take advantage of these moments.

4. Creativity

Not every on-the-way moment will present itself in an obvious way. You also need the creativity to look at a routine situation with a view to uncovering a leadership moment.

None of this is to downplay or diminish the importance of leadership at the destination. It matters to be able to deliver the keynote address, to cast a compelling vision or to simply lead a high-impact meeting.

Just remember that to maximize your leadership, your best contribution might just happen on your way there.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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