Most of these “Leadership Proverbs” I’ve just picked up, absorbed and imbibed by some process of osmosis along the way and don’t know exactly whom they originated from. But when I know I’ll make reference, and when I don’t it’s not that I’m ungrateful or that I want to appear like a genius. It’s genuinely that I can’t remember. So if I’ve flogged something from you let me know and I’ll happily acknowledge it. This one though is definitely from Bill Hybels.

Speed of the Leader, Speed of the Team

As the leader people take their cues from you. When not sure how to behave they’ll check how you behave. When not sure what to do they’ll check what you do. Being a leader means being followed.

This also means that to a large extent the team will be as energetic as you are. They will be as motivated as you are. They will push forward as fast as you do. The speed of the leader is the speed of the team. If you are truly leading your team then they will be following you. They’ll be lining up behind you. And just like when you’re driving on a one-lane road you can only go as fast as the car in front, so a team will only go as fast as the leader in front. Speed of the leader is the speed of the team.

Now this isn’t to imply that people are just sheep and can’t think for themselves and will simply fit unquestioningly in to a prevailing culture or system or anything as simplistic as that. It’s simply the fact that it is very hard to move ahead faster than the leader. If the team wants to push forward with a decision and the leader’s not comfortable with the speed the leader can directly say “no”, they can use other methods to put the handbrake on like “waiting to see how this plays out” or “thinking about this more” or “putting that on next week’s agenda”, or it may simply be that the leader controls how fast items move through the organisational system.

If it’s setting the tone in terms of energy or hours worked it doesn’t take long for members of the team to scale back their effort to line up with that of the leader and the leader’s expectations.

Individual team members may work faster or harder on their own projects where they have relative autonomy, but when it comes to the speed of the “team”, and reaching the team’s objectives, the leader sets the pace.

Speed of the leader, speed of the team.