“To be number one, you need to train like you are number two” – Maurice Greene
Maurice Greene is the fastest man alive – an American former sprinter, Olympic gold medalist, and a five-time World Champion.
In every stage of our life, people will always tell you to be number one, to be at the top, the unbeaten. Sure, being number one has its own perks. In business, the number one will be considered as the innovator, and the rest are “followers”. In personal matters, being number one will grant you the spotlight, the fame, and glory.
But, as an old proverb said: with great power comes great responsibility, being a number one will also put you constantly in the spotlight. Whenever you make a progress or a mistake, people will judge you. Being number one comes with a great pressure – and if you’re not up to it, you will be crumbled.
Hence, you need to learn to be number two, before you can take the number one spot.
Yes, there is not much glory in being number two. However, the number two position often is the most needed and critical in every organization.
Every leader dream to have a strong second in command. Someone who is supportive and complements the leader, with skills that are needed by the company.
To be great at number two, you will need the following skills:
- High level of support for the number one.
Be the first to show support. A number two means you shall learn humility and being a true supporter.
- Leading the rest of the team by example.
As second-in-command, you are also a leader. It means you have a role to lead and make sure your team has not gone astray.
- Understands that you can influence greatly by moving freely behind the scenes.
As number two, your role is to influence the moral and opinions of the team. The rest of the team will listen to you, use this power wisely.
- Great listener
You are required to identify the needs of others. You shall learn to listen and observe, not only your number one but also the rest of the team.
- Shows loyalty and courage.
You should be able to break down both bad and good news. As number two, you should implement a two-way communication – from top to down and vice versa.
- Able and willing to challenge the number one – to help them make the right decisions
- Understands that the spotlight is not on you.
Being number two is about mindset. Number two don’t have the same pressure as number one. You can watch and learn from the number one’s mistake. Also, you will have a clearer goal – to set a better time, to be better than number one. You will have a greater amount of freedom than number one. Use this freedom to ask questions, to finds solutions, to innovates, to ventures into the unknown.
You will need to ask the unasked questions to understand thoroughly about the situation and the organization you are in. A number two will need to strike a balance: between knowledge and curiosity, and between being a supporter and a leader.
If you can master these skills then you will finally be ready to be a number one. So, whenever the opportunity arises and you were selected as number two, then bear in mind that this is the final preparation step for you. You will be a better leader when you already passed as a great number two. Remember, a leader always supports and serve other first.
However, I’m not saying that the goal of number two is to take over number one.
As the current number two, you will have a clearer picture of the situation around you. Use this to do things differently. In the long run, all those things you do differently just may change the world.
Be a smart second before taking the leap to the top.
A writer | researcher | lecturer who also a tech-addict and internet-junkie