The Opposite of Leader is Not Follower | Leadership #PeopleSkills
by Kate Nasser |
Classic business wisdom proclaims that there are leaders and followers. Perhaps this seemed true when leadership consisted of giving orders. Yet even then every action an employee took influenced others, the outcomes, and the future. Back then and today it is clear that the opposite of leader is not follower. It’s high time we stopped using the word follower and replace it with influencer or, as some suggest, collaborator.
In fact let’s not describe the relationship between leaders and employees as opposites. Let’s see the relationship as it truly is — influential and interactive. “The complement of a leader is an influencer or collaborator.”
This discussion is not a silly debate about words. Clinging to the legacy leader/follower model can have grave results on employee engagement, innovation, and accountability.
Leaders, are you delivering the message to your employees that they are your followers? Or have they chosen that role on their own? If you find yourself wanting more employee engagement, more collaboration, and greater employee accountability, you may be perpetuating the leader/follower model.
- It happens because the model is simple. You as leader have the power. Employees feel less responsible. It feels comfortable. Yet the results are far from comfortable. Without empowerment and accountability, the business will fail.
- Check your words, actions, demeanor, policies, and processes. In what areas do your employees think they are not allowed or skilled enough to give input? Even if you are not an order-giving directive leader, you may still be communicating the myth of leader/follower.
- What’s your tolerance for risk? The lower the tolerance, the greater the chance you are communicating the myth and treating them as followers. Consider the customer service reps that are told to read from a script. It is the leaders’ desires to minimize risk that tells these reps they should just follow along.
What invalidates the leader/follower concept? Additional human interaction. The leader is not and cannot be with every employee at every moment. For example, a customer’s reaction to a rep reading a script is something that the rep must handle without the script from the leader. That rep is an influencer on the leader’s vision. On project teams, everyone interacting to deliver successful project completion are influencers/collaborators on that project — no matter how strong the leadership.
For years, sales executives have seen their sales reps not as followers but as influencers. It’s time that all leaders live the truth that all employees are influencers in some way. This model doesn’t create chaos. It creates success.
When leaders tap the employees as their complements and influencers, they increase employee engagement, contribution, accountability, and ultimately, success.
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
©2011-2017 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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