Leader AND follower

Leadership represents a dynamic relationship between the leader, the followers, and the environment (Context). It is a sacred trinity where each part should act upon the other. (A forthcoming article will unpack the context portion of this trinity, but for now, we will focus on followers.)

Leadership courses and presentations too often focus solely on leading. I would suggest that you cannot learn to be a good leader without first learning to be a good follower. Leading is understanding deeply what it means to follow. But more than this, leadership is a relationship.

A relationship with those who are – for the time being – following. “Followers” require just as much of an education as “leaders”, for they are the ones who ultimately “provide” the fertile soil for genuine leadership to grow. The role of those who follow is to make their leader the best they can be, while the role of leadership is to make those who follow the best they can be.

This healthy relationship between leader and follower, where attitudes from both sides are studied and taught, will create a better understanding of how to be the best we can be for each other. Just like a marriage counselor advising a husband AND wife. The next part of this brain teaser will unpack the ideas of John C Maxwell where a famous football coach tells Mr. Maxwell: “I am a better coach with good players”.

5 levels of leadership

  • a. We all start here (beginning of our leadership journey). With a title and job description.
  • b. People at this level follow you because they have to.
  • i. The position – of course – does not really make you anything.
  • c. The positive – it is where one begins to develop themselves.
  • d. The negative – the people who follow you will give you the least amount of their effort.
  • e. Level #1 is where you are going to get the least of someone’s effort and dedication
  • i. In level one “positional type organizations” – 30 minutes before the end of work, people are already starting to clear their desks, because the highlight of their day is 30 minutes away. People leave work at a startling speed.
  • ii. People park carefully in “positional type organizations” – they park to get out as soon as possible. Often “backing into their parking spots”.
  • f. At this level, people only follow you because you have a title/rank.
  • a. At this level people begin to follow you because they want to (as opposed to have to)
  • b. What happens at this level is “connection with your people”
  • c. Relationships are the foundation of leadership. Why? Because relationship is influence.
  • d. Three things these leaders do really well
  • i. They listen well
  • ii. They observe – conscious about where their people are and what they are doing
  • iii. They are constantly learning. In this process, they have an attitude of servanthood. Want to serve, do serve, and love to serve. (Contrary to the glorified idea of leadership – “the boss” – often preached in our modern age).
  • e. At this second level – one grows beyond the position and title (level one) and develops relationships
  • a. At this level you become effective as a leader – because you produce. Example for others on how to be productive. ‘People do what people see’.
  • b. Too many people are like travel agents – sending people to where they have never been themselves.
  • c. At this level, your leadership begins to gain credibility. You are modelling for the people around you things they are wanting to see. You are becoming productive in your own life – then attracting others to be productive as well.
  • d. Law of magnetism – we attract who we are, not who we want or need.
  • i. What kind of people do you want in your organization?
  • e. When you start to grow things – you begin to get momentum. Easy to grow when you have momentum.
  • i. Managers try to solve problems, while leaders try to create momentum. Leaders know that if they create momentum, they will solve 80% of their problems.
  • ii. Momentum and level three leadership – will take care of 80% of all problems in an organization
  • a. Most important asset of any organization is people
  • b. You grow a company by growing people. When their capacity is increased – what they do for the organization increases.
  • c. Recruitment – The key to developing leaders and developing good people
  • i. The better people you bring into the organization the higher odds you can do well with them
  • ii. A famous football coach said to John C. Maxwell– “I am a better coach with good players”
  • iii. 80% of your success of equipping people to be successful, is in the front door, on who you bring in.
  • iv. What does a leader look like? Must have a clear picture – so that when you see that person, you know.
  • d. Positioning – successful people position themselves well, leaders position others well.
  • i. Leader is always watching… always observing, to be able to know the people. Know them not from an ivory tower, but from the ground.
  • e. At this level you recruit well, you position well, and you equip well.
  • f. 5 steps to Equipping
  • i. I do it (the leader)
  • ii. I do it, and you do it with me – I mentor you
  • iii. You do it, and I am with you – now I am watching you, and helping… fine tuning.
  • iv. You do it.
  • v. You do it, and somebody is with you. Must be able to multiply yourself – “compounding”. Must be able to train somebody who can train somebody.
  • a. You have done it so well, with so many, for so long, that people absolutely follow you, because of who you are. Your qualities and what you have done.
  • b. It takes a long time to get this level. It is a lifelong journey
  • c. Leadership is an ongoing journey – always learning and growing process.

Now, ask yourself at which level you are at? What you will discover is that you are on different levels with different people.

Take people that you lead – put their names down, and ask yourself what level you are on with that person. After you know which level you are on with each one of your people, then you will know specifically how to lead them.

The higher your level with an individual, the higher the commitment.