Taking the Training Wheels Off – What Grandpop Taught Me About Leadership

When I was a kid, my Grandpop would load me and my bike into the back of his green pickup and drive us to a nearby parking lot so I could practice riding without training wheels. My bike was the coolest – with the purple, sparkly banana seat and it was even cooler once the extra wheels came off.

Grandpop would run behind me tirelessly, alternating between holding the back of my seat and letting go – over and over and over – keeping me steady until it finally clicked. I got my balance and felt like I was flying. I was free and moving fast and riding a bike would never be the same.

Looking back, I never really knew when he was or wasn’t holding the back of my seat. He never grabbed my handlebars. But I always knew he was there behind me, my biggest fan, cheering me on.

Hidden in my story is a small but powerful lesson that can be applied to your own team or to your own work. The best leaders always guide but never steer. They give you confidence, have your back, encourage smart risk-taking, help you get up if you fall and push you to keep on trying.

Best of all – they know how to get you out of your comfort zone, give you the courage you need to find your wings and they let you soar…just like you did when your own training wheels came off.

This post is dedicated to my Grandpop, Henry B. Supinski, who, among other things, taught me how to ride a 2-wheeler, how to play a mean game of checkers, how to nurture a garden, and how to be as good as one of the boys. Most days I think he is still running behind me…keeping me steady, making sure I don’t fall.

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  • 1
    Tom DelMonte
    April 17, 2012 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    I think you’ll find that when you “do the right things”, there are many people there to make sure you don’t fall.

    Love the post, as my 6 year old has just learned this art of freedom, 2-wheel style

    • 2
      April 17, 2012 - 11:11 am | Permalink

      Thanks for reading and for the comment Tom. I wholeheartedly agree that “doing the right thing” should be at the center of what we do and you always find support when you live this value.

      Congratulations on Eva’s new-found freedom!

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