The Concept

Social networking, leadership, & business strategies on a fundamental level, hand delivered with an edge. (With a heaping side of whatever I find interesting!)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learning To Follow To Lead Series - Leaders Are Empowered By Their Followers

This will be the first post in a series of topics in of which I'd like to discuss a concept that has been growing in my mind for years. The idea of learning to follow, in order to lead.

-Leaders Are Empowered By Their Followers-
I'm an alumni member of Tau Beta Sigma, a national honorary band service organization that teaches its members that one of the greatest values you should hold is that service is an honor, and your responsibility as a leader. So lets define a leader quickly, a leader could be anyone. (looking at it from a college marching band members point of view) A leader could be a senior member of the band, a section or squad leader, a staff member, or in my case a young freshmen member of the drum line at the University of Akron. I took it upon myself that I wanted to help lead this passionate group of young musicians to the next level of our playing ability. I also determined that serving others was something that made me happy. I wasn't a senior, a staff member, or did I have a title, I was a grunt. But through my time in Tau Beta Sigma I became someone people looked up to and someone people followed.

During the years I spent in the band and "TBS" I served under our chapter president at the time, John McArthur. John wasn't a super-leader but he was respected and with good reason. John was the president of TBS and the bands drum major (He led the band everywhere and he was the final decision maker second only to the band director) and I often served as Johns right hand man. It was my job to follow Johns example and orders in order to lead my peers. It was basically leading by example on the next level. Lieutenants lead their men into battle, the Generals job is to call the shots, I was Johns Lieutenant.

Fast forward 5 years, and I've worked for multiple companies that have had many different kinds of leadership. But many of them seem to hold the idea that it was the responsibility of their employees to serve them. I disagree, it's the job of the employee to drive the business machine and show their supervisor what they need to accomplish the goals set forth by management.

Without a strong core team to drive them, a leader is useless. So at the same time, the failure of a team can be credited to the team members failings, not the leaders. I know this isn't always a fair way to look at things, but what I'm focusing on here is the idea that leaders exist to provide the people who follow them with leadership. If you focus on it the other way around, that as a leader or manager, you're team is there to provide you with results and to help you achieve your goals, then your team is bound to revolt, or worse fail.

I think it's the job of a true leader to empower his followers and to do what the group decides is the right course of action. Call it democracy if you'd like, but from my experiences, it isn't present in a lot of work environments.

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