follow feel and flowLeaders often hate to follow.  There’s ego, “I could do this better.”  Or vision, “she’s not thinking big enough.”  Or style, “that’s not how I would approach it.”  When the stakes are high, you might need to jump in.  Chances are there’s greater benefit to follow, feel and flow.

Follow

Follow more.  Take the back seat. Observe, participate.  Be led.   If the guys a jerk, do the best you can. If she’s disorganized, consider the impact.  Imagine what you would do the same and differently.  Don’t judge.  Do watch how others respond.  Consider how followers with different styles perform under that leader.

Feel

Follow with the same intensity in which you lead.  When deeply invested, the wins are that much sweeter.  At the same time,  disappointments and frustrations can run deep as well.  Pay attention to following emotions to become an empathetic leader. 

Flow

Integrate your leading and following.  Follow more when leading.  Lead and follow in the same team.   Create opportunities for others to lead.

A Story

I remember the first time I received some really significant recognition at work.  The music blared, the spotlight shown on me.  I was escorted onto the stage in front of thousands. Pictures were snapped with top brass… the adrenaline rush was fantastic.  As I returned to my seat, my boss pulled me aside and got very serious:

“Never forget how that made you feel.  Someday you will be in a decision-making role, and someone will ask you if the investment in these recognition programs is worth it.  Today you have your answer.

He was right.  I am often in that decision-making role.  I have my answer.

Taking the time to notice how we feel when we are followers, can inform our decisions as leaders.  And we are always following someone, no matter whom we are leading.

How do we feel when…

  • someone takes the time to give us really candid feedback?
  • our risk-taking is supported?
  • someone makes a big investment in our careers?
  • someone takes credit for our work?
  • we really screw up?
  • we work really long hours and someone notices?
  • … and no one does?
  • we are talked to with dignity and respect?
  • … or we are not?

It is hard to step back and embrace the learning, particularly when emotions are high.  And yet, that may be our biggest opportunity to learn.

Related:

7 Ways to Inpsire Courage 
Feel and Grow Rich:  Ways to Learn Empathy

Karin Hurt
Karin hurt is CEO of Let's Grow Leaders, a leadership consulting firm focused on helping companies achieve transformational results by building rock-solid frontline leadership teams. She has a diverse background of executive leadership experience in sales, customer service, call centers, human resources, merger integration, training and leadership development-- the last 20 years of which have been with Verizon. She most recently served as Executive Director of the Strategic Partnership Channel at Verizon Wireless where she transformed customer service outsourcing, working with companies and call centers to build great customer experiences and strong cultures. Her high-trust, high-collaboration approach has led to substantial improvement across the portfolio, with centers performing at parity or above internal centers. Prior to that she led a large Verizon Wireless sales team (2000+) leading the Nation in store sales to the Small and Medium business space. Her book, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide To Building a Better Relationship With Your Boss is available on Amazon. Karin has an BA in Communication from Wake Forest University, an MA from Towson University in Organizational Communication, and additional graduate work at the University of Maryland, where she taught communications classes. She was recently recognized as one of the top 100 thought leaders in Trusted Business Behavior by Trust Across America and as Multiplier of the Year by the Wiseman Group. Karin lives in Baltimore with her husband and two sons. She knows the long road of the marathon runner and the joy of good song, all of which inform her leadership.
Karin Hurt

@letsgrowleaders

Experienced executive, leadership writer and speaker. 2014 Top 100 Thought Leaders, Trust Across America
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