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How to Achieve Great Leadership Results When You Least Expect It

Most leaders thrive in what I call “Destination Leadership.”

That’s the emphasis on leading from the head of the conference table, from the white board in front of the leadership team, or from the podium at the front of the room.

In other words, these and other similar destinations are where many leaders focus their preparation and anticipate delivering their greatest leadership results.

But effective leaders achieve great leadership results in the most unlikely of places.

I call this “On the Way Leadership.”

“On the Way Leadership” was best modeled by the person many of us consider to be the greatest leader of all time: Jesus of Nazareth.

It is uncanny how much of what Jesus accomplished, he did while “on the way” to someplace else.

It seems that for Jesus there were no throw-away moments. Whether it was a teaching moment, a chance to bless someone or indeed an opportunity to perform a miracle, Jesus consistently did some of his most profound ministry not just at his destination, but while he was still on the way.

Effective leaders can learn something from this.

On the way leadership takes place when you seize a coaching moment to help a teammate learn from a mistake. It takes place when you provide a timely word of encouragement to someone whose shoulders are sagging. It takes place when you ask for feedback from staff members who happen to be walking by your office door.

How does it work? “On the Way Leadership” has four key components:

1. Intentionality.

On-the-Way leaders are always on the lookout for leadership moments, wherever they are.

2. Margin.

Leaders who frantically operate at Mach 10 speed rarely have the time or bandwidth to take advantage of On-the-Way moments.

3. Flexibility.

You need to be able to take a detour in your carefully planned day if you’re going to take advantage of these moments.

4. Creativity.

Not every On-the-Way moment will present itself in an obvious way. You also need the creativity to look at a routine situation with a view to uncovering a leadership moment.

None of this is to downplay or diminish the importance of leadership at the destination.

Just remember that for effective leaders, your best contribution might just happen on your way there.

What would you add to the list?