My Effectiveness as a Leader is Judged When You Disappear Over the Next Hill

How easy is it to say you are a successful leader when everyone you lead is within your field of vision? Pretty easy. You can see everything your team does and they know that you are watching. But, it’s what they do once they are out of sight, over the next hill if you will, that determines if you as the leader have done a good job of imparting skills. I learned this lesson from a Scoutmaster who was a Great Leader in the eyes of the young men he had been given the privilege of leading.

The patrol his son was a member of had decided to go backpacking in the Pisgah National Forest to Shining Rock. All members of the patrol were teenagers between 14 and 16 years of age. As the Scoutmaster said, “they were young and hiked fast; he was not young and hiked slow”. Knowing that the young men would become impatient if they had to wait for the older adult leaders, he made a deal with them. They could hike as fast as they wanted to; but, whenever they came to a fork in the trail, they had to wait until everyone was there before anyone could proceed further. He told them that he knew he could trust them when they were in sight of him. It was how they behaved when they crossed over the next hill and he could not see them that would tell him if they were ready for the deal he had just made with them. He reported after the excursion that, whenever there was a fork in the trail, everyone was there, waiting for him and the other slow hikers. Sometimes they had begun pumping and filtering water from a nearby stream; other times, they had begun preparing an appropriate trail snack or meal. Always, they were waiting for everyone to arrive.

I was reminded of this lesson when I met a lady who had built a very large and successful team of sales professionals in one state and had to move to another state. She had been with her team constantly, encouraging, training, mentoring; always right there with them. When she moved, she was still their immediate supervisor and leader; but, she was not physically there. For some leaders, leaving the team unsupervised would be a recipe for team disintegration and ultimate dissolution. However, her team had learned valuable lessons in self-discipline, self-motivation, self-empowerment from her and continued to perform at a very high level. While she was still available to them by telephone and Skype, the team members had learned the business and life skills that enabled them to continue doing all the right things when she could not physically see them.

Great Leaders empower individuals and teams to find the very best within themselves and set examples that other individuals and teams can emulate and aspire to. They develop the mindset and skill set that make it possible for team members to lead themselves and succeed.

Have you had the privilege of knowing or working with a Great Leader who helped you identify the best within you and succeed when that leader was not present? Click “Comment” and share your experience with that Great Leader.

Tom Hoisington is a speaker, trainer, and author whose goal is to provide leaders and potential leaders with tools that empower them to build teams that are creative and cost effective along with a clearer understanding of how personality types interact within those teams. He can be contacted at