Three Sides of Leadership


 “Leading from Ahead, Beside, and Behind.”

Last week I had my first full week off in…well, a very long time. I didn’t actually go anywhere. Instead, I took time for contemplation and reflection. I got out my journal and wrote over 60 pages, exploring my internal dynamics and resetting my personal self-care habits. It may not be as flashy as a trip to Disneyland, but for a natural introvert like me, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. (Yeah, it’s true, I am a natural introvert with an extrovert’s job.)

During that week one of the things I considered was leadership. It occurred to me that a good leader leads in three ways: from ahead, from beside, and from behind.

There are times when you need to step out on a limb, take risks, and be utterly beyond your comfort zone. Leading from ahead means courageous vulnerability and the spectre of failure.

Other times a leader needs to lead from beside, working shoulder to shoulder, putting in the long hours, collaborating and listening with an open mind and heart.

Then there are times when a leader needs to lead from behind, creating systems and taking actions that empower other leaders.


Scribbles from the last week. Love that nibbed pen!

While writing in my journal, it occurred to me that so far I’ve done a pretty good job leading from “ahead” and “beside.” But the next phase of evolution is to do more work from “behind.” This is where the real power and future of HeroWork lies, because it’s only by empowering other leaders that we can ripple out even more positive change into the world.

To this end the core HeroWork team has been working diligently on strategies, tools, and systems. There are still years of work ahead, but we have made good progress on our committees, social franchise model, governance structures, as well as a most-excellent fall fundraising campaign called the Rebuild Community Challenge.

Simultaneously we’ve chosen our 2016 major project. It’s still in the process of being confirmed—so I can’t announce it just yet!—but trust me when I say it’s going to be BIG.

Right now we are looking for inspired people who want to help with the organization that is HeroWork. We are searching for those who want to lead from ahead, beside, and behind. We are looking for heroes with the courage, tenacity, and passion to make a difference as a team.

“We need volunteers to grow our program over the long haul.”

In the short term we need people to help us organize and coordinate our fall fundraising campaign. In the long term we need visionary leaders. We need dedicated people who, in between Radical Renovations, want to help evolve and grow our program.

Within two weeks we will hold an orientation for new volunteers, giving you the lay of the land of where we are going, and the ways you can dive in. If you’re interested send me a note at and I’ll get right back.

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