The Willingness to Follow Builds the Ability to Lead

Here at the-Coaching Blog run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Rosana Nedelciu — iCN Journalist (Romania).

In a time when more and more people feel the need to leave their mark on the world by becoming leaders, it takes a special kind of courage to show that you actually believe in someone other than yourself. Simply because that would put you on “the second place of the follower”, of the person who recognizes Value in someone else and promotes it, or supports it.

To stand behind a Value that is not yours takes confidence, emotional maturity, and an extraordinary ability to appreciate the value of others, as opposed to a general “me only” orientation, through which, sadly, most people are trying to prove their worthiness.

“I can do that, too.”

“I know better than you.”

Expressions are often found in the professional world. Everybody could do everybody else’s job, supposedly with better results, if only they wanted to. Everybody dismissing everybody else’s abilities with a condescendence that says “What you do is not so interesting to me to do it myself, but if I wanted to, and I’d do it, I’d be so much better at it than you are.”

On the other hand,

“Thanks! Your idea has opened a new perspective for me.”

“I really appreciate your input.”

or

“I’ll stand by you on this.”,

Although signs of maturity, personal strength, and character, have come to be regarded as signs of weakness. And when advice is sought, it’s done behind closed doors: “Please don’t tell anyone we had this conversation.” Or, when that is not possible, and good advice is given, the person receiving it never forgets to end the dialogue with “That’s exactly what I had thought of myself.”

It’s not an enigma what feeds this behavior. It’s the fear of losing the image around which one’s status is built. The status of the brightest, the most efficient, the most creative, etc. The status of the best or the first. The status of The One and Only.

It’s not uncommon for team members to steal ideas from their colleagues and quickly run to their superior and present them as their own. But while this does not happen every day, I have observed that something else tends to, especially at management levels. More and more managers pinpointing how valuable their ideas were to others, how much support they give to others and how their colleagues would not perform as well as they do, without their contribution. More and more “wonders of nature” who not only seem to not need/get any contribution from others but who contribute to everyone else’s achievements.

This rotten behavior is fuelled by a miserly interpretation of Leadership as Competition, and especially in organizations where the principle used in managing people is “Divide and Conquer”. In organizations where the employees saw that a “Man is wolf to man” approach was the most efficient in climbing up that hierarchy scale or maintain the status quo. When, in fact, Leadership is about Cooperation, about bringing people on the same page, about togetherness.

Which is why I believe that the definitions of Leadership should put more emphasis on a Leader’s ability and willingness to stay “in the shadows”, to promote and support a Value that does not belong to him personally. The ability to take on that dreadful second place.

The Head of an organization should also be the Tail of it, by nourishing a culture of mutual support. A culture that sends out a simple, but powerful message as “I, the Leader, believe in each and every one of you, the people in my company. And with every decision that you make, you should know that I’ve got your back.”

In such an environment, creativity and initiative would flourish. Based on this simple principle, companies would ensure for themselves not only a healthy growth at all their levels but also a promising pool of True Leaders who will always be the first to put themselves in second place.

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About Rosana Nedelciu

iCN Journalist for Romania. Rosana is an HR professional with 7 years of management experience and international exposure. Her expertise are in Executive Search, Learning and Development, Internal Communications and Performance Management. Keirsey Temperament Sorter: The Teacher. She is also the owner and creator of TheHView coaching concept (The Human View on Personal and Career Development) And an author of the book called ”Mother is Love, Why do You Speak of Cancer?”

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