Taking the Back Seat
My family and I were on our way to church this past week, and instead of sitting in the passenger seat, I took the back seat and let my son sit up front due to a leg injury. As we drove, I realized how clearly I could experience the environment in the back seat. I felt relaxed and fully relinquished control to my husband, who was driving. I didn’t feel the need to be a “back seat driver” or tell him which way to go. I just let him handle it.
That’s how it feels to be in the back seat of caring leadership. Those in the driver’s seat can’t feel empowered if their leaders are always jumping in to micro-manage. The idea of ‘taking the back seat’ releases the need to oversee everything and be comfortable with other people having that control and making decisions. It can be freeing for the leader. But there is such a thing as being a good backseat driver. So how can we do that as caring leaders?
First, begin by changing your mindset and release that need to control everything. The more we get comfortable not being in the driver’s seat, the better we get at letting go. Allowing yourself the opportunity to take a step back and take it all in can really help you view things in an entirely new light. Just like I did on our casual drive to church. By doing this, you build that foundation to lift others up and allow them to shine.
Next, learn how to trust others and build depth in your relationships. It’s important to connect beyond the surface and understand their individual strengths. Caring leadership behaviors extend past the workplace, too, so using this skill in your everyday life can also benefit you in your career. Allowing others to participate in making decisions or fully take the wheel, just like I did on a casual drive to church, provides them with that positive feeling of empowerment. Especially if it’s the work they want to do and they’re good at it. The more opportunities you provide as a leader increases that trust and lets you really get to know your team, which will eliminate the need for micromanagement.
It’s All in the Approach
And lastly, soften your approach. It’s possible to suggest alternative opinions without being intrusive. Just because you speak up a little doesn’t necessarily mean you’re micro-managing. It’s all a learning curve. But if you focus your approach around kindness and understanding, it will have long-lasting effects. Remember why you want to implement this change in the first place and cut yourself some slack.
As caring leaders, there is so much on our shoulders. Yet, we always feel the need to do it all and be the master of nothing. When we decide to relax into the “back seat” side of caring leadership, we allow others to reveal their greatness. That is a gift many team members are clamoring for but rarely receive from their leaders. Be different and become comfortable sitting in the back seat!