There are leaders in your shadow

"I am so sorry!"
Olivia rushed into the room behind the stage, dragging the cabin bag with its broken wheel across the floor.

"I know we are just minutes away from starting the whole conference, what is the status?"

Her heart was beating furiously. Not just because she had been running from the airport bus to the convention center, but because of the stress. The stress she had felt as soon as she had learned that her flight, along with 50 other flights, had been cancelled due to the storm.

She was responsible for the grand opening of the conference, and instead of arriving the day before, she arrived just minutes before the first speaker would enter the stage.

No wonder she was stressed, no wonder her heart was pumping furiously.

"Everything is under control", her junior colleague Anne said, smiling and moving Olivia's bag out of the way.

"Under control?" Olivia couldn't believe what she heard. She had not been able to stay in contact with them, there had been such a chaos at the airport and her phone had run out of battery.

"Yes." Dan, her most trusted collegague and friend, put his hand on her shoulder. "It is all under control. You should have seen when Anne took charge. Everything has worked out well. We are ready. Relax."

Minutes later the conference opened. All worked out well and Olivia realized she had had a great leader right in front of her nose for months, without realizing it.

One of your main tasks as a leader, is to grow new leaders.
They will only grow if you step away now and then so they can get out of your shadow.

Once you do, you can enjoy the bonus:  
The inner calmess from knowing that others can step into your shoes the times you can't.


One is none, two is one

Would you like your leaders to enjoy their work even more?

And feel more confident about their decisions at the same time?

There is a proven way to increase both enjoyment and confidence.

It has been around for years, but we have not yet applied it to leadership roles.

That is a pity, since the same way of working also reduces stress and increases creativity.

What is this magic process or tool I am talking about?

Pair leading.

If you haven’t heard about it, it is hardly surprising. As far as I know I am the only one using the term.

But even if you haven’t heard about pair-leading, I believe you have heard about the benefits of pair programming.

According to Wikipedia 96% of pair programmers stated in an online survey that they enjoyed their work more than when they programmed alone and 95% said that they were more confident in their solutions when they pair programmed.

Wouldn’t it be great if 96% of your leaders could enjoy their work more?

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

So why is pair programming common, while pair leading is not?

One reason is that leaders are often seen as individuals rather than part of a team or a pair.

In some company cultures the leader is even expected to be a strong individual rather than part of a team.

I work with many ambitious and strong leaders.

Many of them are on the edge of being overworked, while others are no longer on the edge.

They fell off the edge and have a long way back.

A common cause of stress is the feeling that

“If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”


“I am the only who can do it.”

When you feel this way, you go to work even when you are under the weather.

You save up vacation days but you never use them.

When new challenges or opportunities arise, you have a hard time dealing with them, since you are already working excessively with the day to day business.

Working in a pair or a team would relieve the pressure.

Then you can plan a vacation, knowing that your colleague can take over the most important parts of your work.

You can do a quick hand-over when you suddenly need to stay home to take care of a sick child.

And – as icing on the cake - at work you will have a sounding board.

Together you will make better decisions.

Together you will be better leaders.

One is none – two is one.

Are you afraid the company cannot afford it?

Well, how much does is cost your company to have leaders on sick-leave or making poor decisions when over-worked, or lacking the head space to be innovative?

You can afford pair-leading, or project management teams.
The question is - can you afford not to implement it?