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  • Jacky Chen

Blog Article: Balance Between Leading and Following

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

Having leaders in the organization is necessary, but without followers, who will execute the plan laid out by the leaders? Without leaders, teams would not have a blueprint to follow. In order for organizations, there must be a good level of understanding between leaders and followers. To help us gain a better understanding, we have Tasleem Jessani, founder of Rubiks Coaching, answering some critical questions regarding the importance of both roles!

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

Having the ability to listen and actually understand what is being asked of you, seeing the big picture so that you can understand your role in the task or situation, and feeling comfortable with letting things go that are not yours to control – when you are part of a team, it’s important that you let others do their part and you focus on your part.

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

The most important qualities are creating a vision for your team, communicating the vision so that everyone is working towards the same end goal, and emotional intelligence – empathy for your team’s needs and struggles, really understanding their strengths and weaknesses, and leveraging their areas of passion and motivation.

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

Yes absolutely. If the leader wants input from his/her team and wants decisions to be made together, the leader needs to embrace times where they may follow instruction from the others on the team. Another example is when the leader is working amongst peers – there are times when the leader must lead, but also where they must gracefully follow when that’s what is needed of them.

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

Being a good follower is an ability to let go of control of a situation and understand that your contributions are critical for the success of the project/task. When a leader is also a good follower, they will understand when it’s best to step back and let others lead the situation. This is what develops emotional intelligence in a leader which is a critical skill.

How does leadership affect HR management and processes?

Every part of HR includes making leaders more effective. It is the leaders who impact the organization’s success and motivate the employees to do their best. Every single aspect of HR management and processes are designed to help leaders be the best leaders they can be so that the organization achieves its results.

Is being a follower as important as being a leader?

Absolutely, it is impossible to have 2 leaders in a single conversation. Even when 2 leaders are speaking, each second of the conversation includes one leader and one follower. When we respect each other’s roles, opinions and abilities, we become more effective. A good follower makes a leader more effective because they will understand instruction and the purpose of the task. They will execute with passion and enthusiasm, helping achieve the best results!

How do you teach good leadership in the workplace?

Teaching great leadership is a combination of things. Training of course is extremely valuable, because it helps leaders learn skills and best practices on how to lead effectively. On the job experience is important too as leaders learn by being involved in situations real time – and with the support of their manager and/or a mentor, their skills can develop and improve. Finally, a crucial element to teaching good leadership is coaching. Every leader needs a coach, because the coach helps to bring out the individual’s authentic leadership style. Everyone is able to hone in on a natural leadership ability – a coach helps to expand that ability, help them work through blindspots, and expand their creative problem-solving abilities.

How has leadership changed over time?

In the past, leaders were determined by whomever is the most technically sound in that area of the business. Now, leaders are encouraged to have superior people skills first and technical skills come second. Leadership has become more about empowering others to do their best and work effectively together to achieve an end result, whereas in the past, it was just important that the leader can answer their employee’s questions and escalate issues. There is a lot more need for leaders to really understand people and what makes them tick – I’m really loving the way leadership has evolved and is going to continue to evolve!

Overall, the importance of both roles in any workplace is undeniable and in order to excel in either one, followers and leaders must learn how to work interchangeably with each other.

To learn more about Tasleem Jessani, connect with her on LinkedIn here:

To learn more about Rubik's Coaching:

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