Turning your back on the crowd…to Lead

When I first saw this quote on one of my friend’s Whatsapp story, I was filled with awe. I see so many people in leadership who spend a lot of time wanting to be “in the crowd” instead of leading the crowd. No doubt it is hard to turn our backs to the cheering crowd — it seems so fun to be in the middle of it all, but a woman or man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn her/his back on the crowd.

Why? Because leadership is strengthened when a few willing and wise members who are under the guidance of a great leader will learn, watch and grow and then produce other great leaders.

When you become a leader, success is all about growing others

Jack Welch

If you check on Wikipedia you will see that a “smaller-sized orchestra of about fifty musicians or fewer is called a chamber orchestra. A full-size orchestra has between 70–100 musicians and they are sometimes called a symphony orchestra or philharmonic orchestra. Orchestras are usually led by a conductor who directs the performance by way of visible gestures. The conductor unifies the orchestra, sets the tempo and shapes the sound.”

Of course we all want to be liked, but liking someone is a feeling that can just as easily disappear when the next shiny object takes its place, and, if that is the case, that’s not leadership but following the crowd, and when the crowd goes in the wrong direction, by sheer force, the one who wanted to lead will be swept away into the middle of the crowd and lose their standing. Unfortunately we see it all the time.

When you believe you have the heart, ability and strength of leadership, then put a stake in the ground and move in the right direction for the good of your team instead of waiting to test the winds of change for your next step. Leadership moves forward; even a slow step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction.

All of us have our own spheres of influence. Do others trust you enough to follow your leadership, do they trust you enough to turn from the crowd and leave what they have known to follow you? Have you, as the orchestra conductor, spent time in developing leaders who will, after you’re gone, be able to command the respect and loyalty of others that they are currently showing to you? Or are you like most others, wasting valuable time by chasing the crowd and spending your time running to the front of the parade?

The conductor must remain focused on the musicians, he/she cannot pay attention to the crowd or anything else for that matter. The applause of the crowd is a by-product and not the main goal!

What I find interesting about the relatively small number of musicians in an orchestra is how a few people on a stage under the direction of a great conductor can bring thousands to their feet in applause and appreciation.

Just think what you could do if you focused on the orchestra of your team or your friends. By your life, your personal leadership standards, and I’ll add, your principles, you can unify, set and shape the outcome for a positive ending. But that will only happen when you turn your back on the crowd and lead.

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