Laura and Randall's
post is the last
in a 5-part series on
If you have been in your chosen career
for more than five years, please disregard this blog.
Stop reading now.
It is not intended for you.
Your persistence is starting to creep
There, much better. Now we can speak candidly.
Early career professionals are in a
tough spot. Not only are we asked to carry more than our weight in proving
ourselves, we do it with the limited networks and without the influence of
people who are already established in their careers. Facing this double whammy, what can we do to
exert leadership? How can we utilize
those who are willing to help us in moving the field in the direction we
believe is most fruitful?
Well, for starters, we can learn from
Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, and Beyoncé Knowles.
In Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom,”
he described his leadership style as follows:
"A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock,
letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not
realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
across the Atlantic, US historians parse political narratives to identify a
"doctrine” that encapsulates a president’s leadership style. The emerging "Obama Doctrine” is a
Mandela-esque "Leadership from Behind”. This doctrine is described in both
glowing (here, here, and here) and
derisive (here, here, here, and here)
supporters, leadership from behind describes a president who has assembled a
team of brilliant rivals that follows a rigorous process to hash out a
consensus. They describe Obama as a
president who is willing to allow all branches of government a role and in
international affairs they see him as diplomatic and insistent that America not
go it alone.|
Mandela and Obama are obviously world leaders elected to high offices, we wonder
if "leadership from behind” might be the optimal approach for early career
professionals who are positioning themselves for future collaborative care
figure from which we ECPs can learn is American singer, songwriter, dancer, and
actress, Beyoncé Knowles. Like Obama and
Mandela, Beyoncé has been a role model for leaders and young
professionals alike. Her unparalleled
entrepreneurial business savvy has been on display since an early age. She is
always re-defining herself and developing as an artist.
collaborative perspective, she promotes women musicians by having an all-female
band (as seen on Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show here) and collaborating with artists outside her
genre including Sean Paul, Shakira, Justin Timberlake, and Lady Gaga. Through collaborating with other early career
musical leaders she asserts her own identity (influencing) and remains open to
others (being influenced).
may feel that they are still in a learner’s position, consider the following
question, "How can I be influential to those around me when I’m still in
training?” Asking the question of how you could be influential allows you to
examine where you have been in your professional career and where you would
like to go. And most importantly, who is
coming with you. More specifically, reflecting
on the unique aspects that you bring (or brought you) to the field of integrated
care and how you can access and expand your network
to influence the field accordingly is something that ECPs can do right now.
allegiance and support among current leaders can help you, the ECP, to lead
from behind. One can achieve this by
presenting ideas to those you look up to as current leaders in the field and
join collaboratively, whether it be for a paper, a presentation, or
interviewing the individual(s) for a class project.
approach to early career leadership is lifting others in your cohort. To riff off
the many versions of Advice, Like Youth,
Probably Just Wasted on the Young by Mary Schmich (see here), your
colleagues, like siblings, are "the best link to your past and the people most
likely to stick with you in the future.” Lifting others in your cohort and staying
connected to others who you’ve met through networking is an invaluable
relationship. Similar to you approaching
current leaders in your field, presenting your ideas to colleagues is invariably
impacting others. As a result, you build
your network and display your ideas to others so that you can continue to lead
from behind for ECPs may appear as a pro-active approach to an unfortunate
reality. However, as ECPs, we have an obligation
to influence and be influenced. As systemic thinkers, we know the value of
moving away from a linear approach (e.g., people are depressed because of an imbalance
of chemicals in the brain) to a systems approach (e.g., psychosocial factors play
a part in depression). As such, we
should move away from the top-down approach (e.g., implementing what our
leaders have shown us) to a cyclical approach (e.g., presenting our ideas to colleagues/leaders
and in turn, have them be influenced by us).
We hope this post will spark conversation about how ECPs "lead from behind” and (if any
mid- to late-career people stuck it out) how mentors have witnessed ECPs
"leading from behind.”
Here are questions to consider:
1. What are limitations faced by ECPs seeking leadership opportunities?
2. What can be done to overcome these obstacles?
3. Who are your role models in early career leadership?
4. What are other leadership styles you have seen to be effective
5. Does a feminist perspective support or
discourage "leading from behind”?,
|Laura Sudano is a Marriage and Family Therapy doctoral candidate at
Virginia Tech and works as a Medical Family Therapy fellow within the
Family Medicine residency at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, CO.
She currently serves on the Denver 2013 CFHA conference planning
committee and is the co-chair for CFHA's Social & Networking
|Randall Reitz should not have contributed to or read this blog. The possibility that he still considers himself an early career professional is delusional, laughable, and probably creepy.|