Leaders Go First and Sometimes Last

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leaders go first

Leaders Go First and Sometimes Last

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We probably all know this more than a century old idiom, “The Captain goes down with the ship.” Should leaders be the front-runners? Do the best leaders jump in first or do they sometimes lead from the back? Do leaders go first, or last?

When you stop to think about it there are probably numerous reasons it could be one, or the other. When you think about your current business trends or the state of the economy for any sector, it might seem reasonable that leaders go first.

Leaders Go First

If you are going to have the hottest new product it might help to be the first to bring it to market.

When you want to capture a business opportunity being the first to get in a proposal might put you in the best position.

It’s true for concert tickets, rush hour traffic, and the limited quantity of the daily special at your favorite restaurant.

Be first or at least be early.

Things are moving really fast. Technology is driving a lot of change. Even socially how we connect has relevance with going first, or at least going early. Never jump in and people will just move on.

Waiting for something, anything, a good word, the right window, or prolonging a decision might mean missing the opportunity. There really isn’t any waiting.

Leaders need to be front-runners. Risk assessed from the back or near the end might be an assessment that is too late.

Sometimes Last

Do leaders sometimes need to go last?

The captain and his ship, probably makes sense. Occasionally a back seat driver might have a view superior to someone in the front. Even being the last to be served at dinner or the last one in line at the food buffet might be polite and demonstrate leadership and respect.

The idea of who goes first and who goes last might not be the right question. The right question might be, “What is the desired outcome?”

Business is seldom awarded for bravery. It is awarded to those who have proven their success, their value, and are timely.

First matters for the race but sometimes the last one at bat wins the game.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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