I am not musical. Singing Taylor Swift at the top of my lungs in the car does not qualify me as having artistic chops. However, for one year of my life I did play in the band.
In the sixth grade I played the trumpet. I was terrible. Good news was almost everyone else was terrible too. Since the playing field was fairly level with bad players, I actually found myself making 2nd chair trumpet.
One particular day at practice it was not going well for me. I kept missing this one section of a piece we were playing. Everyone else nailed it...except for me. My band director gave me some words that serve me well today. He said, "Mr. Lloyd, even if everyone else plays their part beautifully, people will only be able to hear yours if it's off. You may not have the main part, but your part matters."
John Maxwell has said, "The most difficult instrument to play in the orchestra is second fiddle." The reality of leadership is that at some point we all find ourselves playing "second fiddle." While we may aspire to be a point leader, and some of us may attain that, we all do well to learn to lead from the second chair.
I have been on staff at my church for 10 years. I have been second chair for 10 years. I have done everything as a staff member except lead worship, mainly because of creative differences...not my voice. Well, that is what I tell myself.
Fortunately I have seen some success in my time here, I have also learned several things. Specifically I have learned there are a handful of things second chair leaders should guard their hearts against. These attitudes can make or break your potential. Here are 3 areas where you should guard your heart in leadership.
I serve in a ministry role. I have no pedigree in ministry. None of my immediate family did this. My dad was not a preacher. I am proud of the fact that he faithfully built meter sets for the gas company, but he never preached a sermon. I am not from a major metropolitan area. I was 37 years old before I finished college. In so many ways I have no business doing what I do. One of the feelings I battle daily is a feeling of insecurity about my job.
The greatest enemy to your leadership is insecurity. This view of yourself can rob your ability to trust and follow another person. Being insecure with yourself causes you to be insecure with everyone else. Insecurity causes you to isolate yourself from other relationships. It cripples authenticity. As a second chair leader it convinces you that the only way you find significance is by ultimately being in charge. Jim Collins says, "You can build a pocket of greatness without executive power, in the middle of the organization." I submit that rule only applies to secure leaders.
Key: Be more secure in who you are than in what you do.
We assume that a masters degree or mastering a certain skill or earning tenure assures maturity. It does not. All it does is qualify us to be placed in situations where maturity is demanded. Leadership maturity is serving a person you do not agree with. Maturity is honoring a person you think you are smarter than. Maturity is executing a vision that you wish were different.
Second chair leaders are in trouble if "deserve" creeps into their mind. A deserving spirit is dangerous. Many leaders have to fight it. I have to fight it. It emerges by our being easily offended or consistently combative. If we want to reshape our organization from the second chair we do it with our attitudes. We do it by living with a sense of humility and awe and gratitude.
Key: A heart to serve trumps a heart that deserves.
Many second chair leaders feel like they are stuck where they are forever. We lose effectiveness by wallowing in this feeling. This kind of thinking creates inconsistency inside of our heart and in our work. You may be stuck in a season, but you are not serving a life sentence. Embrace the grind. Embrace the season you are in. Second chair is no excuse to perform second rate.
Consistency earns you the ability to be heard. That is what so many second chair leaders long for. If your work, demeanor and drive are inconsistent then you just become a loud voice that everyone wants to shut off like a crying kid on an airplane. Talent gives you a voice, consistency gives you a platform. If you're steady, you earn a platform to bring change.
Key: The volume of your attitude is louder than the volume of your voice.
No matter what seat on the bus you find yourself in today, you are there to make a difference. These few issues can steal your significance. Stay on guard and manage these attitudes. While some of you may eventually find yourself in the drivers seat of your organization, others are lifers in the second chair. Maximize where you are at and remember, even if you do not have the main part, your part matters.