In Adam Bryant's New York Times Corner Office column, he interviewed Edison International CEO Pedro Pizarro recently. Pizarro offers this very insightful description of how he thinks about the role of a leader in an organization:
I see a lot of leaders who want to be the hub, with their people as the spokes, bringing them information. My visual for leadership is that if the team is a wheel, I’m actually the rim. I’m not the center. My job is to keep the spokes together, keep the team together and really help that team perform because they, collectively, are going to have a lot more insights than I will. It also means that when you have to go through mud, the rim goes in first. But that’s the way it should be.
How awesome is that?! I love the notion of the rim holding the team together. In addition, he describes the rim as going through the mud first. Imagine those situations where the leader can take the flak for his or her team, or perhaps serve as a buffer between the team and outside forces that may get in the way of the work being done. A leader does not simply direct his or her team. An effective leader also shields his or her team at times and takes responsibility when things go wrong... rather than throwing the team under the bus.