Don’t Be The Leader, Be The Right Hand Man Instead

Vantage Points Header Joel Elveson(A Playful Look At Leaders And Those They Play Follow The Leader)

BY NOW, the needles (if that’s what they are called) have fallen off the Xmas trees while others wait their turn to be turned into mulch for gardens that will bloom in Spring or be put curbside for the garbage man to toss them into the rear of their tucks to be taken away. The noise makers, party hats, streamers, garland, menorahs and all other remnants of the holiday season (hope yours was a joyous and festive one) have been packed away until next year.

It is now time for the leader to take off his funny costume glasses amongst his other part paraphernalia and become the leader once again. Time to return to being the ‘go to guy’, the guy with whom the buck stops, the guy whose bandwagon those who can’t find their own way turn hitch their lives, careers, etc. too. Yes, the leader recognizes his shadow and takes his place as the head honcho of those he leads for whatever reason.

When it comes down to it that’s a lot of responsibility to take on with nobody to turn to for advice when “leadership skills” take leave of absence. Hence the need for a “right-hand man” who basically is the guy (or gal) who whispers sweet nothings into the ears of the mighty leader to make him or her look right again.

The President (when we have one) has a Vice President (when we have one) in addition a full cabinet stocked with advisors (collectively in this case worth less than a can of corn) to help him navigate the waters of leadership. Without this ensemble, the leader could not lead as there would be no place for him (or her) to turn to for advice.

On the other hand, the “right-hand man” (hand-picked by the leader to exactly as his title states) always has the ear of the leader so that he can get his “charge” functioning smoothly. Great leaders in any endeavor have their “people” to whom they rely upon. No matter how strong or wise the leader may appear he (or she) is only as good as his underlings.

In actuality, it is the right-hand man or supporting cast that run the whole “show.” It is their collective/collaborative thinking that forms the style the leader employs while giving him (or her) his substance. This being the case (I truly believe the statements contained herein are true) instead of being the leader why not be the right-hand man aka alternative “go to guy” who fall all intensive purposes is the leader without being considered to be the leader.

When a leader tries to be a “solo act” (minus advisors and alike) depending on the situation he can be perceived as brilliant (how could anybody have done without his awe-inspiring leadership), so-so (are we sure this guy knows what he is doing) or downright mediocre (where did we find this banana brain or how did he or she find us and how did we allow ourselves to be led by this nincompoop) or any combination thereof. Hence the leader realizing his shortcomings rests his head on the should of those whose job is to support him.

There is no sector in our society today that does not have a leader nor can their value be diminished providing they are indeed leaders who reach, teach, and inspire others. My qualm does not lay in the fact that we need leaders or that true leaders do exist but rather with those who take on this role by taking charge of the lives of those who lack the clarity needed to be their own leader. To be redundant we do need leaders and somebody has to step-up and be that person. When circumstances demand or events such as 09/11 occur people like President George Bush & New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani were strong decisive and righteous leaders who deserved the accolades they were afforded are crucial to restoring the natural order of daily life.

A leader is not a leader when he knows not what shoelace to tie without having to seek out advice or conduct public opinion polls. In instances like these the “support staff” have to keep the leader in an upright position so that his influence is not in any way diminished. This is not leadership rater a show put on by a master marionette or a talented genius leader as was the late Jim Henson.

So here you have it the first pro/anti-leader/pro-right hand man (the unheard voice behind the voice) article just in time for the New Year. I will leave it up to you to come to your own conclusion about leaders while asking you to ponder the question as to wouldn’t it be better to be the right-hand man (or leading man) behind the leader.



Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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    • Andy, thank you for reading and commenting on my article not to mention your compliment. I wrote this article a couple of years back and was supposed to be I guess satire. Back then I was writing about everything or anything came to mind. These days I stick to more personal and philosophical oriented writing as this style seems to be my niche. Thank you again, Andy.

  1. This post, while tongue in cheek, bears so much truth for the “leaders” of the world today. Someone once said a true leader is smart enough to surround him/herself with people smarter than they are.

    As you said, they don’t try to be King/Queen of the Mountain. At the same time, they don’t go running to ask their staff when they should go to the bathroom. Delegation is an art that must be mastered by true leaders. This is because we dilute our efforts when we try and spread ourselves too thin.

    Instead of focusing on those things we are best at, we try to cover all the bases. What happens is we minimize results by doing this. This is short sighted and totally unnecessary behavior.

    A true right hand man/woman is indispensable. Together with the “leader” they complement each other and co-create success.

    Thanks as always for this insightful post. It’s always a joy to read your articles!


    • Ahndrea,
      You are correct in that my post was somewhat tounge in cheek there were elements of truth as well. Leaders are necessary but only in certain circumstances should people need somebody to lead them. Playing follow the leader all your life does not bode well for you as far as who is in charge of your life is concerned. Thank you Ahndrea for your loyal readership and your kind words. All my best.