Benay Informer 11/09/2022
Updated: Nov 18, 2022
How to Follow and Still Be a Leader.
The responsibilities of successfully leading a team, a department, or an entire organization can feel overwhelming. No matter your job description, being part of a well-functioning organization means everyone needs to focus at least part of their day on being a leader.
While many business articles, gurus, and coaches focus on growth skills for leaders, we have found the skills it takes to be an excellent follower to have an even more effective outcome. When you follow the cues of your staff, coworkers, clients, or even mentors and role models, you’ll be able to learn what’s working in your organization, how to fix or improve it, and how to effectively grow your business.
CHANGE YOUR VIEW OF LEADERSHIP
Past traditional models of business leaders may have consisted of taking constant meetings in-house to review, evaluate and respond to data. It is not unusual to picture the manager or CEO remaining separate from staff, creating and maintaining the distinction between boss and employee. In contrast, I suggest that, like Henry V and the battle of Agincourt, you fight with your troops on the battlefront of your business. Allow your team to get to know you as the authentic, and hands-on person you are. The best way to do this is to work alongside them, showing your strengths and fortitude in action!
If you are spending all your days behind your desk instead of in front of your employees and customers, you’re doing something wrong and missing out on naturally occurring learning moments.
Get up and get out! Go to industry events, spend time with staff and customers, and learn what you and the company are doing right (and wrong) and how to improve.
LOOK SIDEWAYS AS OPPOSED TO UP AND DOWN
We tend to view organizations hierarchically, but often people work better and are more productive if they are accountable to a group of equal-level coworkers rather than one leader. In practice, we have seen it is one thing to let your boss down; and an entirely different vibe if you let your coworkers down and have them share in the blame.
I am often amazed by the constant talk of employers needing to find team players yet not giving them the opportunity to truly participate in being part of a team. Delegate leadership and the accountability that goes along with it. By doing this, you create more captains who will likely have better skills, ideas, or motivational qualities in a particular area than yourself.
Empower your captains and let them participate in growing the business along with you.
CULTIVATE YOUR CORPORATE CULTURE
There’s an internal brand and an external brand in every company. The chasm between the two can be quite wide.
For example, many people consider the behemoth company Amazon, an incredible company, but it has a high turnover rate and a great deal of internal employee dissatisfaction. While you are up and out from behind your desk, you are cultivating your brand and corporate culture for employees and clients.
When was the last time you asked a staff member or client, “What is it that we do best?” or “How can we make the workplace/product/brand better?” Don’t forget to strengthen your internal brand to increase employee retention and internal and external growth.
The best way to do this is by embracing the company focus, energy, and culture you and your staff have worked diligently to create.
If you feel tethered to your desk by an unending list of to-dos, we have a few suggestions that may help you get back in touch with your team. First, consider setting up a desk outside your office, perhaps in a common area. This will allow you to interact casually without your door separating you. It will certainly get everyone’s attention and give you the opportunity to share why! Second, block out “co-working” time on your calendar. Use this time for spontaneous chats or networking events outside of the office. Third, choose a time on my calendar to discuss the ways Benay can help you make more time in your schedule by allowing us to take on the tasks and put time back in your day.
Never stop striving for growth, Dawn
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