Lead or be Led
Leaders are at the tip of the arrow. They provide vision and direction to the people they lead.
Followers look for a leader that will lead them with a vision and direction that they can understand and invest in.
Given a great leader, people can accomplish most anything.
Talented followers often become talented leaders. Talent leaders are either mentored by or report to other talented leaders.
Great leaders are led well
Every leader starts off as a follower. Leaders are often identified by other leaders because they often end up leading their peers to success in group situations. They can’t help themselves. They find themselves pushing the team from behind while making sure the work is completed even though they are not given the leadership title or authority.
Under great leaderships, leader/followers are identified and excel. Under good leadership, leader/followers help their leader succeed and are appreciated. Under poor leadership, leader/followers become frustrated and sometimes rebel.
Not every follower is a leader
There are many followers that are positive they would be great leaders. These are the folks that often say things like, “If I were in charge…” and their peers shudder at the thought.
Truth be told, not everyone can lead. If, however, more people were led well then worked to be excellent followers, excellent members of a team, then the results would be astounding.
Proof of this occurs when there is a change in leadership of an organization, but no change to the followers. Suddenly the team begins to do things it was not aware it was capable of doing. The followers find renewed energy and clarity under the new leader. They are transformed.
Leaders that are led well
Followers tend to forget that their leader is usually a follower. Unless the leader’s title is Chairman, President and CEO of the organization, the leader is responsible to follow the decisions of a person of a group of people above them. The dynamics are a bit different at the very top of the organization, but even the President and CEO is responsible to the board of directors. Congress can impeach the President of the United States. And the Pope, well, there is not enough room here to discuss that one. Suffice to say your boss often has a boss.
Strong organizations are led by strong leaders who in turn lead other strong leaders. The followers in a strong organization know the vision and move in a definite direction.
Weak organizations are led by insecure, directionless leaders who do not want other strong leaders around them because they are threatened. The followers in a poorly led organization don’t understand where the organization is headed and flounder, desperately looking for leadership.
Lead or be Led
If you are a leader, work hard and strive toward excellence. Be a strong leader. If you don’t know how to be a strong leader, find a mentor, read a book or get training to become strong.
If you are a follower, support your leader by doing your work with the goal of reaching the leader’s vision. Perhaps you are sure there is not vision and it is clear there will not be; then move on. A bitter follower is toxic for the follower and those around them.
If you are certain you want to make the jump from follower to leader; then make it your business to find a mentor. Seek opportunities to lead, read books, ask for more education or seek it out yourself.
Not an ultimatum
Lead or be led is not an ultimatum. It is a way of life. Whether you are placed in a position to lead or to follow, be sure to do it well.
To lead well requires talent and study.
To be led well requires talent and understanding.
Both are honorable positions to hold in any successful organization.
Al Getler is a writer, speaker and consultant in the areas of media, digital media, leadership and customer service. He is also a comedian and a ventriloquist. Summed up, it means you will laugh and learn with him at your company, your convention or your event.