…is that you need to be a couple of steps ahead of those you’re leading.
There’s more to leadership than that, of course. The “two steps ahead” rule is the super-simplified, stripped-down version of Leadership 101. There are other things that factor in there (maybe more important things) like vision, discipline, character, and skill. Those things matter.
But none of those things do a leader much good if he or she doesn’t stay out in front of those that they’re leading. That doesn’t mean you always have to be the smartest guy in the room or have the best ideas. It just means that as a leader, you set the pace.
There’s a double edge to this two-steps-ahead sword, of course. The first is the burden that leadership creates: to lead, we have to actually lead. But the second is the freedom we actually have to lead. When we realize that leadership isn’t about having a degree or having decades of experience or even having a title, that’s freeing. When we recognize that we can lead simply by being a couple of steps ahead, we’ll see that a lot more of us are leaders than we may have first thought.
Look behind you, potential leader. Anybody following?
Lead them well.