Second Chair Leadership

This is taken word for word from the book Leading from the Second Chair by Mike Bonem and Roger Patterson from pages 96-97.  This book has been an amazing resource as well as a God-sized challenge to me in some areas of leadership.

The Second Chair as Servant Leader

The second chair leader who wants to thrive, personally and organizationally, builds a team by exhibiting a servant’s heart.  Greenleaf says it well: “A new moral principle is emerging which holds that the only authority deserving one’s allegiance is that which is freely and knowingly granted by the led to the leader in response to, and in proportion to, the clearly evident servant stature of the leader.  Those who choose to follow this principle will not casually accept the authority of existing institutions.  Rather, they will freely respond only to individuals who are chosen as leader because they are proven and trusted as servants.” (Greenleaf, 1997, p. 10).

If you are a second chair leader, you are in the spotlight.  Peers and others in the organization are aware of your actions and attitudes.  Do they see you as someone who wants to be noticed?  Do you have a reputation for being too important to be bothered with small matters, or one for rolling up your sleeves and doing mundane jobs?  The decision to be a servant is entirely up to you.  Unlike becoming a team, which requires mutual commitment, your peers cannot prevent you from having a servant’s heart or from genuinely offering your support.

Be careful not to do it with an ulterior motive.  If you start keeping score (“I’ll be a servant today, so that I can help fix another part of the organization tomorrow”), you are not really serving; you are manipulating.  Your service needs to come from a genuine belief that it is the right thing to do, and that the organization is better as a result.  Any second chair can be a better leader by developing a “how can I help you?” attitude.  As you seek ways to help, you find yourself filling any number of gaps.

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