Do You Lead From the Backseat?

view from the backseat

I am reading a book on social media metrics. It’s not really a leadership book, but in the first chapter the question Do you lead from the backseat? came to mind. While introducing ideas on how we track marketing, Jim Sterne points out:

“Are we there yet?” is the question asked from the back seat. “Are we still going in the right direction?” and “Is there anything in the way?” are asked from behind the wheel and lead to business and career success.

Keep in mind that he was discussing keeping an eye on critical factors in today’s real time world. Prior to the internet assessing how a new program was going or how a product or service would do in the market was down the road a month from implementation. Today it is possible to track in real time the course corrections that need to be made. We are more able to keep a forward focus on staying on target. Sitting in the back seat and asking “Are we there yet?” is the wrong question. Are we still going in the right direction? is the question of forward focused leaders. For example, Microsoft as noted below is beginning to ask the right question.

What can we learn about leadership and followership from Microsoft? First, followership. Windows continues to guide Microsoft’s vision and generate the lion’s share of its revenue, while historically it has influenced almost every significant action that Microsoft has taken. As a result, with few exceptions, emerging market opportunities not connected with Windows or Office have not resulted in the types of projected success the company had hoped for. Microsoft was an early entrant in the search and mobile markets, for instance, but lacked the clarity, focus and business model innovation required to succeed.  The Nook partnership is another example of Microsoft playing catch up.

There is a way to grow additional revenue streams, enter new markets, and innovate at a faster pace –to resume leadership – but in order to do so, Microsoft would need to do things differently…More at Microsoft Moves from Followership to Leadership

It is interesting to note that in the above article Microsoft’s vision is lead largely by Windows. Window is behind the wheel. Now it would appear that Microsoft is turning that around and asking “Are we going in the right direction?” Leadership is moving behind the wheel.

Take a look at the questions you ask your team and then ask yourself “Do I lead from the backseat?”

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