A great number two isn’t fighting to be number one.

That isn’t to say they lack ambition or aspiration. They’re just more concerned with service than they are with status. And in doing so, I’ve found that they rarely ever lack influence. Because humility isn’t invisibility, it’s showing up in service to something bigger than yourself. It’s an understanding that every role matters not just the leading role.

Leaders operate with a strategic lean towards the future. They have to. It enables them to see and cast a compelling vision for those they lead.

A great number two makes it easy for their leader to keep looking ahead by making sure they don’t have to keep looking over their shoulder.

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No number one should have to be concerned about the ulterior motivation or intention of their number two.

You can spot a great number two in action:

  • You see it in how they talk to a leader when they are in the room and how they talk about a leader when they aren’t. They stand with them publicly and stand by them privately. The leader never questions whether they have their support.
  • They don’t chase credit, so you notice it in the way they respond when the leader gets it right. They don’t shift blame, so you see it in the way they respond when the leader gets it wrong. The leader never worries about them resenting their success or taking advantage of their failure.

Humility recognises that sometimes you’ll set up the play rather than scoring the winning point and what ultimately matters is that the team wins.

When we make sure a leader doesn’t have to keep looking backward we help our organisation to keep moving forward.

A question to reflect on:
“What could I be doing to make it easier for my leader to look forward?”