Back Seat Driver

Firstly apologies for the vaguely sexist picture. Women can drive just as well as men. Women aren't necessarily back seat drivers.
Ok now that's sorted.
The term back seat driver has always amused me. Until I passed my test (at the 2nd time of asking) I had no clue why the person in the back was telling the person with all the power what to do. Now I get it.
Any drivers out there who have ridden in someone else's car have probably had the 'ghost brake pedal' experience where the driver doesn't quite slow down when you would do in their place. A lack of control where usually you are in the driver's seat, literally.
'What relevance does this have?' I hear you cry. As a middle leader (lowercase) I sometimes get that 'ghost brake pedal' feeling at work. That feeling of helplessness and the urge to shout out 'You're doing it wrong', the feeling that someone else is at the controls and you are just a passenger.
Your awareness is probably higher than when you were a student on placement or an NQT, where the focus was almost solely on you and your practice. You've learnt how to drive the car, you know what all the knobs do. But in this position someone else is in charge.
Frustrating? There is a temptation to be a back seat driver or a mumbler as I like to say. Quick to point out faults, quick with 'I told you...', quick with a posthumous quicker route. We all have mumblers in our workplace. Experienced staff who have seen it all before ('It's all cyclical, we did this in the 70s'), but who for some reason aren't driving themselves.
Is there another option? Surely only one person can drive a car? As a middle leader, I think we have another option. Our job is to supplement the work of the driver, in this case the SLT or Head. 'Why not try...' instead of 'I told you...'.
Personally I have had a revelation in the past year. Formerly frustrated at not having my hands on the wheel, I've realised the impact I can have from the 'back seat'. Without the pressure of driving I can admire the view out of the window, read a book, but more importantly, watch what is happening. The 'I told you so...' becomes silent, and then 'What would I have done?'.
I learnt to drive where I had grown up, and realised that when I got behind the wheel I already knew how to get to most places nearby already. I had been observing, subconsciously or otherwise, from the back seat.
When I take the wheel at some point I will have taken part in many journeys, followed dead ends and wrong directions, as well as following the right path. When I do find myself in a leadership role, I won't always know the right way, but I will have been there enough times to make the right choices.


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