Can you follow?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
I was recently listening to a podcast and heard a leader who I know and admire say, “I’m not leading this; I’m just following.” He is the founder of his organization, sets the vision for his organization, and yet readily admits that in some areas, he is the follower, and this is what makes him an amazing leader. Fast Company ran an article back in 2018 titled, “Want to be a good leader, learn to follow.” The article identified three key points: 1) Followership is a key component of leadership, 2) You can’t succeed on leadership skills alone, 3) The best followers make the best leaders.
The best leaders know three things:
- They know what they don’t know. The leader I mentioned above knows that technology isn’t his strength. He writes his books on yellow legal pads with a four-color pen. He casts the vision and understands the organization’s why.
- They know who knows what they don’t know. The best leaders understand their strengths. They have done the hard work of identifying what they do best. They have utilized the tools like DISC Personality Profiles, StrengthFinders, and Closest Friend assessments to pinpoint their giftedness and areas where they need help.
- They let others lead in their “don’t know” areas. Great leaders have no problem letting those who know and are gifted lead. Including leading the leader. The benefits of this reach throughout the entire organization. People see the leader as someone who believes in others, is willing to invest in others, and even follows. The leader gets to see emerging leaders in action and then actively coach and mentor them to greater responsibility within the organization and beyond.
I have seen many teams and organizations be held back by an insecure leader who needs to always be in control. Their organizations are being held back by the very person responsible for taking them to the next level. Once I learned that there were times I needed to follow, I became a much better leader. So, back to my original question, can you follow?
If this topic resonates with you, please join me for episode 255 of The Next Page podcast as I dig deeper into this critical topic.