There is an argument that leaders always need to lead and that following others isn’t something they do very well. In other words, a leader always needs to be the one casting vision, rallying the team and representing the organization. But can a leader also follow at the behest of another leader, be part of a team and accept inter-dependence on others? This of course, is what most leaders do every day. They are led by others and they themselves lead others also. Maybe only at the very top of organizations, the CEO for example, does this paradigm get a little blurry.
Most leaders have accountability to someone else in a leadership role. Being a member of a ‘leadership team’ can be an incredibly dynamic experience. It can also be a nightmare! But where those leaders have self-confidence and security in who they are, their responsibility and their capability, they can contribute to the success of the leadership team and respect the leader of that team in their behavior and delivery.
Leaders that always need to prove themselves to be leaders, or who haven’t mastered the art of listening, can be the sort of leader who finds it hard to be part of a team. Those who have no grasp on the gift of humility or acknowledging the contribution of others, also run the risk of being disruptive rather than complementary to the team. And lastly, those who aren’t great leaders themselves or who aren’t delivering expected results, can find interdependence a rough road to walk given their own lack of performance.
Great leaders are often those who have vision, inspiration and great judgment, amongst many other virtues. These qualities are not the sole domain of the leader. Great leaders know that reaching out to others often delivers a higher value outcome than just relying on their own capacity. Any leader who has learned that lesson, understands the value of others which they can transfer into the context of being part of a team themselves. This interdependence means that they are comfortable leaning on others and responding to the promptings of another leader, as well as providing their own unique perspective that adds value.
Great leaders are agile and adaptable, which means that following another leader is inspiring for them rather than threatening. So to follow is an opportunity to respond with enthusiasm and to give their best – something that they seek to also inspire in others through their own leadership.