These four quick tips will help you maintain perspective and a healthy attitude if you sit in the second leadership chair.
1. Second Chair Isn’t Second Class
We seem to be conditioned to think that first chair leadership is better or more worthy than second chair leadership. This simply isn’t true. For starters, not everyone is wired for or called to first chair leadership. So, trying to make yourself ‘fit’ into the first chair may be extremely frustrating and could even be an act of disobedience. There is a lot more to successful leadership than your position or title.
2. Only One Leader Is Perfect
The view from the second chair can make it fairly easy to track a first chair leader’s foibles and fumbles. If you are ever tempted to dwell on your first chair’s liabilities, just remember that there has only been one perfect leader – Jesus.
Thankfully, it is ultimately Jesus whom you serve. This doesn’t mean that your first chair or you shouldn’t seek to grow or improve as leaders, but it does mean that you need to be quick and frequent in extending grace. What can you learn from David’s treatment of Saul?
3. You Don’t Fully Understand
Even though you are close to the first chair, it is impossible to fully understand the number, complexity and speed of the ‘moving parts’ and issues facing a first chair leader. As a result, the first chair may not prioritize or take action exactly as you would. You can do your best to clearly make your case to the first chair, but you may also need to emotionally release some decisions. This means accepting the reality that there may be factors beyond your understanding and that you are not fully responsible for the decision.
4. There Are Benefits
Second chair leaders can have a significant level of influence without the full weight of first chair responsibility. This provides an incredible frontline opportunity to learn by watching your first chair succeed and sometimes make mistakes. Second chair leaders also often have great influence and leeway in implementing directives and ideas from the first chair. In other words, you may not make the first decision on a certain direction, but don’t underestimate the impact you can have as you make many of the sometimes even more significant implementation and application decisions.