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  • Jacky Chen

Balance Between Leading and Following: An Interview With Nicole Davidson

Being good leaders means having the ability to adapt to different situations. In the second installment of our blog series “The Balance Between Leading and Following”, Nicole Davidson, founder and CEO of Beacon HR, gives some insights regarding how leadership is important, especially during difficult times like COVID-19.

What are the 3 most important qualities of being a follower and why?

Being a good listener. Put yourself in sponge mode and learn as much as you can. Sometimes you’re learning what not to do, or how not to lead, and that's an incredibly valuable experience that will prepare you for future leadership positions.

Share your opinion. Too often, it can feel like you don’t have all the information so your opinion is less valid. In reality, no one ever has 100% of the information. Even if you feel like you are lacking context or detail, stick up your hand and contribute to the conversation. Good teams need different perspectives to perform well.

Put in the work. Say yes to the extra responsibility or project. Show up early, stay late. No matter what you commit to, give it your all, even the tiny little things.

What are the 3 most important qualities of being a leader and why?

Being a good listener. Knowing when to help and when to get out of your team’s way. The ability to inspire and motivate.

Can leaders also be followers in the same situation or context?

Absolutely. Everyone, no matter your job title, role, or rank, has the ability to inspire and to influence others.

To what extent does being a good follower make you a better leader?

Having looked up to different leaders throughout my life and career so far, each one has taught me something different. In some cases, they’ve taught me how NOT to lead. This experience was so valuable and makes me a stronger leader today.

How does leadership affect HR management and processes?

More than ever, HR is being called to the table to accelerate the business towards its goals. Where once HR was seen as administrative, companies now understand the value of their employees’ happiness AND productivity. The HR department now holds a strategic position and is expected to empower a company’s executives, managers, and employees’ to perform better. HR leaders are coming from non-traditional backgrounds too, like Claude Silver, VaynerMedia’s Chief Heart Officer, who had no HR experience to speak of. During the COVID-19 crisis, HR leaders are in an incredible position to direct the company through the storm. They’re looking at reconfiguring companies’ workflows and processes, looking at what can be automated or made more efficient, identifying who can be reskilled and used in a different capacity and are ensuring strong internal communications.

Is being a follower as important as being a leader?

Yes! Both roles are important. You need strong independent contributors, gurus, and strong leaders in an effective organization. You need people who will get excited about the vision and those who will execute on that vision.

How do you teach good leadership in the workplace?

Lead by example and talk about what strong leadership looks like. At Beacon HR, we have a set of leadership principles that we live by. These are the values that we believe in so strongly, we even hire, fire, and promote based on these. It’s important to talk about what good leadership and values alignment looks like, to share stories and examples, but also to talk about what it is not. What is the antithesis of your leadership principles? I’m currently reading Principles by Ray Dalio and it’s inspiring me to think about my personal leadership principles as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

How has leadership changed over time?

We’ve seen a lot of focus on different styles of leadership that are unique to each generation. For example, millennials value frequent communication and transparency whereas boomers might be used to a more hierarchical and authoritarian style of leadership.

Overall, we hope that this article gave you greater insight into how leaders and followers work interchangeably and the importance of leadership, especially during the current pandemic.

To learn more about Nicole Davidson, connect with her on LinkedIn in the link below!

To learn more about Beacon HR:

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