Sometimes my wife drives and I sit in the back seat with our son. On rare occasion I am tempted to critique her driving: a bump here, a swerve there. Yet I know from having been the driver (and received back seat feedback myself) that the bump was to avoid a bigger bump, the swerve was for safety’s sake to avoid something I could not see or understand from my perspective, but was apparent to the driver. You have to have back seat faith, trust that the driver is competent, knows her job, and is doing the best she can under the circumstances.
Leading an organization is akin to being the driver. During the depths of the recent and long-lingering great recession, as the chairman of my company I authorized some tough decisions: reduction of staff and cutbacks in expenditures in areas I truly did not want to cut. But, the alternatives were even worse, bigger bumps. Even if all the outcomes we were swerving to avoid did not occur, the truth is they easily could have occurred. Now things are better (a bit, not a lot) and we are re-instituting certain things. For people out in the field it can require faith. I’ve heard, “Does management know what it is doing? Last year they told us that and now they are telling us this. Seems like they operate on a whim.”
You have to have back seat faith, trust that your leaders are competent, know their jobs, and are doing the best they can under the circumstances.
The Collier Companies is blessed with an extraordinary senior management team. I am in a state of continuous awe and appreciation for the exemplary quality of people who have chosen to be a part of TCC. Rarely have I seen such a team of dedicated, enthusiastic, committed people who enjoy their jobs and sincerely like each other. I am surrounded and supported by excellence in both deed and spirit.
Believe me, this is one organization where back seat faith is well deserved.
P.S.: The duty of leaders is do their best to communicate the hows and whys of decisions as soon and as widely as feasible (teach). The complementary duty of followers is to have faith and ask knowledge- and skill-enlarging questions (learn and expand horizons) when the opportunity arises. This is particularly true in an organization deeply committed to continuous learning and developing the full potential of every team member.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy
“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” — John Maxwell
“Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a job. That takes all of the good characteristics, like integrity, dedication of purpose, selflessness, knowledge, skill, implacability, as well as determination not to accept failure.” — Admiral Arleigh A. Burke