How To Move Leaders From the Back Seat To The Driver's Seat


Currently in our family Mary and I are the only ones who can sit in the driver’s seat. We are the only two old enough and skillful enough to drive. (However, the latter has come into question concerning my skill as a driver do to the few gift certificates I have received from my friends at the California Highway Patrol.)

Our boys are sixteen and in a few months they will be driving on their own and when that happens, possibilities open! No longer will we have two drivers in the home but four. When that blessed moment arrives it will take the strain off the existing drivers and allow new opportunities.

The same is true with leadership. How great would it be if we could get potential leaders to move from the back seat to the driver’s seat? Can you imagine the possibilities? Instead of one group serving the poor you have two. Instead of one small group you have two, all because someone moved from the back seat to the driver’s seat.

As I said in an earlier post, there are five people in our family so out of necessity we have a car that can accommodate everyone...evenly multiple rows.

The first row has room for two people. One in the driver's seat and one in the passenger seat. The second row has room for three people to sit comfortably and and the third row has room for three people to sit uncomfortably.

First Row
The Driver’s Seat
The driver is responsible for knowing where they are going, in fact, they are responsible for knowing where everyone in the car is going! They are the visionary of the vehicle and keeper of the car.

The Passenger Seat
Navigator, moderator, communicator, and media selector. They are a pair of hands while at the window of a drive through, a trash taker after an in car spill, a navigator when a turn is missed and occasional reminder that you are moving to fast, not braking enough or generally not paying attention to the road.

Second Row
The Middle Seat
From the first row to the third row there must be a second row. Second row passengers are easier to reach and communicate with. It’s easier to get their attention. They are in a better position to be engaged in the conversation between the driver’s seat and passenger seat simply because of proximity.

Third Row
The Back Seat
You can hide in the back seat and if you slouch down you are invisible. There are passengers that like that back seat, the third row. They can hide or be disengaged yet still arrive at the destination with everyone else. Occasionally, you will have a leader that likes that third row. There are a number of reasons why the first of which, it’s just more comfortable.

It’s important to understand this layout because there are different roles and responsibilities for each seat in our vehicle. If you change your seat, you change your role. This idea of changing seats is something we should look at when it comes to both ourselves and the leaders around us. If you change your seat you change your role and your responsibility.

A good driver can spot the potential in that back row leader and challenge them to move up. You must look for someone who has the necessary skills and ability to drive and help them over come their fears of sitting behind the wheel. Of course, not everyone can drive nor is everyone equipped to either. The same is true with leadership.

You must observe who is ready and who has the ability to sit behind the wheel. When you spot that potential person and you want to move them from the back seat to the driver’s seat you must take three steps.

First: Move Up
Challenge the potential driver to move up to the second row so they have a better view. The middle seat is closer to the “wheel” so they are in closer proximity to the current driver. They can observe, listen and dialogue with the visionary of the vehicle easier from this spot.

Second: Move Over
The second step involves you as the person currently behind the wheel. You must be willing to stop, move over, and let someone else drive. You must move to the passenger seat and help coach and mentor the new driver. Encouraging them and equipping them with the necessary skills to drive respectfully and responsibly.

Third: Move Out
Get out of the car. At some point, the new driver will need their independence and autonomy to drive without someone looking over their shoulder. This isn’t an easy step but a necessary one that will make that empowering difference in their life.

We have all experienced the roles and responsibilities associated with the driver’s seat, passenger seat, and the second and third rows. Depending on the job your training or maturity may prevent you from being in a certain seat at a certain time and that’s ok. We all do what we can when we can. However, there does come a time when maturity and skill allow the person in the third row to move up and that’s when the possibilities open!

1. Are you ready to move from the back seat to the driver’s seat?
2. Are you ready to move from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat?
3. Who do you know that’s in the third row but needs to move up?

Photo Credit: Image ID: 68914585 Copyright: Joel Calheiros