With the Chicago Cubs in 2016, backup catcher David Ross played in only 75 games (out of 179). Yet, when the Cubs won the World Series, the other players carried him off the field on their shoulders.
Because Ross was a good teammate. The oldest player on the team, he was known in the locker room as “Grandpa.” The younger players knew they could have fun with him, but they also knew they had an honest, dependable mentor.
The team’s manager, Joe Maddon, depended on Ross too. As a player working with fellow players, Ross could provide guidance and leadership the manager and coaches couldn’t. The kind of leadership that says, “I’m in this right along with you.”
Lots of leaders lead from up front, like a general riding into battle.
Some leaders lead from behind — providing guidance and removing obstacles, but preferring to cast the limelight on the team rather than on themselves. Leading from behind has much in common with servant leadership.
Then there are leaders, like Ross, who lead from within. Rather than a job title (VP, Director, Manager), their leadership is based on the trust and respect they’ve earned from the team.