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Stories for EL, Issue #006-- A Leader is a Follower First
September 08, 2008

A Leader is a follower first!

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Training Games

Table of Contents:
  • An Introduction!
  • Article - A Leader is a Follower First!


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A Leader Is A Follower First!

One of the reasons why employees leave their work despite high compensation is the attitude of supervisors or managers.

Instead of motivating and leading their teams to accomplish the groups' goals, a lot of supervisors and managers are busy enforcing their power over their followers.

Instead of helping their teammates to grow and achieve the objectives, such leaders are only bossing their subordinates around and are unwilling to share and pass their knowledge and skills to others.

If you have supervisors and managers like this in your company or group, you will notice a high turnover of employees. Kings, princes and even sultans can be born rulers. However, great leaders are developed and made. Nobody has a birthright to become a good leader.

You have to understand that rulers aren't necessarily great leaders. In order to become a great leader, you need to be a follower first.

Here are some reasons why a leader should be a follower first:

Better understanding of the plight of subordinates

A leader who came from the ranks usually knows and understands the plight of his or her underlings.

You won't only be able to empathize with your teammates, but you will also know the tricks under their sleeves. You will know when to show compassion and when to be strict.

It is a known fact that employees or followers have tendencies to procrastinate, look for ways to make their jobs easier even if the quality isn't good, and try to steal company resources, such as time and supplies.

Thus, a leader who is familiar with the ins and outs of the company or group has a better advantage of taming his or her crew.

Leading by example

Many employees look up to supervisors and managers who know how to lead by example. If you want your subordinates to follow the rules of the organization or the company, you should be the first to follow such edicts or orders.

For instance, bosses who are always tardy and absent can't expect their subordinates to willingly arrive on time. On the other hand, if bosses go to work early, employees will have no reason to arrive late regularly.

Getting respect and awe

Many people believe that respect is earned. Thus, if you are a leader or the chief executive of a company, employees won't necessarily respect you if you don't give them any reason to do so.

In order to gain respect, you need to be a humble leader. You need to accept your mistakes and graciously hear other people's suggestions.

Doing matters more than speaking.

As a leader, you will be involved in making presentations, speaking to your people motivating them etc. Watch your words on such occassions. Your actions need to match your words.

Your actions speak louder than your words. There is no place for rhetoric in a leader's vocabulary. Your employees will see through you pretty quickly, if you are prone to rhetoric.

You are not an expert in everything

Knowledge explosion has made enterprise extremely specialist dependent. This means a leader - usually a generalist - does not have all the skills or knowledge required for the enterprise to be successful.

This kind of a scenario demands that functions of an enterprise are led by specialists, and leaders have to learn to follow to make the various departments successful.

A leadership game to illustrate this concept:

A group of people are divided into pairs. One of the pair is assigned the letter A and the other is assigned the letter B.

Each pair is handed a pencil and a sheet of paper. The group is presented with a graphic like the one given below.

The aim of the game is for both to hold the pencil and draw as per directions given by you. The directions to call out are:
1. A to lead.
2. B to lead.

When "A to lead" is called out A will direct the movement of the pencil while drawing the graphic on the paper. When "B to lead" is called out B will direct the movement of the pencil while drawing the graphic on the paper.

When it is A's turn to lead, while B is still holding the pencil along with A, he will just follow the lead of A and not apply any pressure to the pencil which counters that of A. A will do the same when it is B's turn to lead. They can change the position of their fingers on the pencil as the directions are called out.

This way the pair will complete the drawing. They can take time to plan the exercise after a few trials, when they learn each others' strengths.

You'll find more such games - all of them brand new in my e-book "New Training Games". If you purchase the e-book, you'll also get a bonus e-book on creativity techniques.

To order your e-book and get the bonus go here. It will cost you just $7. Buy it and add the games to your training repertoire. Get a free e-book on Creativity too.

You can also order your leadership profile for just $5:on this page.

Thank you

Thank you all for the enthusiastic response to the last issue. I hope you like this issue as much as I liked writing it.
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