The Musher is at the back…

For once, I didn’t hover. I didn’t smother. I didn’t micromanage. I didn’t edit every page of the presentation deck. I didn’t pour over the agenda. I stepped away. I trusted.

Several hours before the event I tried to inject. I was told to step away. That I was being a “buzz kill.” Let it be Dave. Let it be. And so, I let it be.

Our town hall is held 2-3x per year.

The large auditorium filled slowly. Too slowly for me. (It’s always too slow for me.) My anxiety climbing. Yet, it filled.

These meetings start slowly. A sense of unease. Shifting in the seats.  It is near the end of the day and minds are turning to the commute home, to family, to dinner.

Front line team members gave business updates. Not senior management. Not middle management.

They spoke of their day-to-day reality. Their accomplishments. They laughed at their frustrations. They poked fun at me and other members of our management team.

I sat back watching.  You could feel the mood turn.  The ball was beginning to roll down hill.


Cheers after each presenter was done.

On an impromptu basis, one sang Bruce Springsteen’s Jungle Land. (Who knew he could sing? And what does it say about a team’s comfort level to let their hair down and just let it fly…)

Oh, what talent in this room.   My heart swelling with pride.

Leadership comes from all levels. It needs to come from all levels.

And Mushers? Mushers are at the back of the sled.

“To lead people, walk behind them.”

Lao Tzu (600 BC-531 BC)

Image Credit: Zen Roxy via Red Bird in the Snow

Lao Tzu Quote: Thank you Lori @ Donna & Diablo

Related Posts:


  1. I can feel your pride in every sentence, David. And how magnificent that one team member felt comfortable enough to sing! Kudos to you my friend. “To lead the people, walk behind them.” Lao Tzu


  2. David: I like this post a lot. It says a ton about leadership and management and the role of growing others by letting them do. Too much talk in the world and not enough doing!


    • Thank you John. And I so agree about the talking vs. doing phenomenon. Reminds me of the quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald: “I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go.” Grist for another post another day, John. Have a good day.


  3. Thanks for sharing this David, what a great feeling it is to watch those whom you lead step up and move forward as you step aside 🙂


  4. These are the people they work with. They have to feel pride in themselves too and what a wonderful way to do that when they can see the talent that’s on their team. Great post. Great quote.


  5. Way to go leader – they showed you the way.


  6. Patience & listening has paid off along with leading from the front. Great job & Happy Birthday Bro!! Have a great day!!


  7. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    Ah – birthday greetings are in order? Have a great one Dave!


  8. Way to go David, first happy birthday, and now – you learned well from the people around you in your younger days – I am sure that had something to do with the person you have become!!! Congratulations!!!


  9. Great words! Thanks 🙂


  10. A great post, David. You paint such wonderful pictures. Fact.

    I’m curious about something, hope you don’t mind me asking; what was it that prompted you to let go this time?

    Happy Birthday, I hope they are all treating you well today!


    • Hi Michael. Thank you. I attribute it to 3 areas: 1) Very talented direct reports who have asked to run independently – enabling me to act in a more strategic capacity, (2) a better recognition that I may not have all or the right answers (this has taken a long time), (3) some thoughtful coaching from my management chain. All have played a key part in my behavioral change.


  11. Great story, David! Synergy is wonderful indeed!


  12. “Happy Birthday Mentor” :). Nice blog – could to see you’re learning to let go. I can’t believe people expect everything to be perfect in the work place 🙂 Enjoy !!!!!!!!!!!!


  13. Wonderful story, Dave. I like the analogy of the Musher together with the Lao Tzu quote. Looks like it’s a great day to have a birthday — wishing you a happy one! 🙂


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