Are you a LEADER or a FOLLOWER?

We are all born natural Leaders, but we are born followers too.

For the first few years of life… we depend on our parents… and yet… between siblings, we still jostle for space, attention and love. In many ways we follow our parents… and we vie for position to be leaders, with our siblings.

Then we go to school… and we follow our teacher, and we compete with classmates… The story continues.. through college… into corporate life and right into retirement. Even in relationships… we are leaders at times… and followers at others… So what are we? LEADERS or FOLLOWERS?

Having studied this phenomenon and played leader for over 25 years… I am of the firm opinion that we are Followers first… and if we are NOT able to respect others and follow/collaborate with them, … then we have no right to lead them. The trick is to know where to follow.. how to collaborate, and when to lead. Consider the following, where I have broadly categorized Leaderships Styles based on Attitude and Behaviour. Attitude is how and why the leader thinks a certain way, and Behaviour is what we see of the leader on the outside. Lets analyze how and why this is important.

1. Low Esteem – High Control Leader (LE-HC)
This is a leader who does not see himself as a leader, but because he has the position, he hangs onto it for dear life. This leader cannot delegate. He wants to be a part of every decision. If anyone takes a decision, however small, without his permission, he gets into a panic mode, as he thinks he is losing control. Now.. anger, is the other face of fear. So this leader is prone to losing his temper, and is really a pain to work with.

2. Low Esteem – Low Control Leader (LE-LC)
The LE-LC leader is very easy to work with. He allows everyone to do what they want, because he feels .. things work, and he still retains his leadership slot. So.. this leader gives up control, in lieu of position. He is easy to work under, but because so many people are jostling for space, he is the type of leader who is always trying to balance out issues between his leaders. He surely tries to use systems and processes to control others, but because he is not able to handle direct confrontation, he is always tense about how to move things forward. This type of leader is dangerous for an organization, because the strong followers who think they can control others are constantly playing with the mind of the leader. The second rung of leadership determines the course of activities/events.

3. Average Esteem – Average Control (AE-AC)
This leader is best suited to organizations who are service, rather than profit oriented. They are able to play long term because they are great at getting people to work together. So no path breaking things will come from these leaders, but there will surely be longevity and balance for the organization. The organization run by these leaders will draw people who are looking for stability and comfort to work in.

4. High Esteem – High Control (HE-HC)
These leaders are mavericks. They are perfectionists who want to go down in history. They really do not care about causes… but when they believe in something, they go all out and achieve what they want to achieve. These leaders are fabulous to watch, and great to understand. But, alas… they are never going to do something long enough to let their DNA be mapped or replicated. Such leaders are not oriented towards systems or processes. They are strong on gut feel, and decide even major issues in a snap. It is a challenge to work with such leaders as their pace burns up the follower very quickly, but for the follower who is loyal, the will get the entire project to run, when the leader moves to something else.

5. High Esteem – Medium Control (HE-MC)
This leader is mature, and has probably stepped down a rung from being a HE-HC leader as described above. This leader will be focused, driven and balanced. Such a leader will carefully choose the people to work with, and every plan will be solid and implementable. This leader is not a maverick but a focused, results driven leader. Such a leader will look more at growing other top leaders, as this leader is at the Self Actualization Phase of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and will not need recognition, but will work recognition for the project or venture. Such a leader is what every country requires, for it is these leaders who add to the GDP, and the future leadership pool too.

Between the above styles of leaders, there are many sub-styles or combination styles. We can be one kind of leader in one setting, and yet, we can choose to play another leader in another setting. For example – at work they could be HE-HC leader, but in a social service organization, or at home, they could be AE-AC Leader.

What matters most, is not the style of leadership, but how the leader get results. Sometimes a good follower can play excellent collaborator, and do more for a leader and/or an organization than even the designated leader. More of this in my future blogs. Till then, move from being a follower to a collaborator. Feel free to add value to this blog, through your comments and queries, as it is through collaboration and shared learning that we all grow faster.

Lets DO IT… Lets become better leaders and when required, lets be the best of followers too.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply