Leadership and Followership
I know too many people in positions of leadership who believe that everyone should now be following them. In reality, leaders are much more effective if they think of leadership as something that exists between two or more people working toward a common goal, as opposed to something that one of them does. Of course, if leadership exists between people, that means that they will all need to exhibit both leadership and followership.
That’s right… being a good leader means also knowing how to exhibit good followership. Sharing leadership, power, and information all create better teams and better quality decisions. Sometimes, leaders have a hard time being a good follower because they fear that if they give up the reins, or don’t appear to be the expert in every situation, they will lose credibility. Trying to earn your credibility on the premise of being the expert in all situations is a fool’s errand. It will only be a matter of time before you are wrong enough that people will lose confidence. But, be the leader that engages people, celebrates the contributions of everyone, and sees your role as lifting others up, and you find increased credibility at every turn.
The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.
— Max DePree