Followership and Leadership – 3 Traits That Help Us with Both
A common misconception is that someone is either a leader or a follower. The reality is that most of us engage in both followership and leadership at the same time. We may lead our team, but have to answer to another leader in our organization. Even CEOs and business owners often have a board or shareholders that they are accountable to. The good news about this dual nature that we find ourselves in is that the qualities that make a good follower are ones that help develop us to become great leaders. Patience, respect and trust are three of these traits.

Followership and Leadership – 3 Traits That Help Us with Both

A common misconception is that someone is either a leader or a follower. The reality is that most of us engage in both followership and leadership at the same time. We may lead our team, but have to answer to another leader in our organization. Even CEOs and business owners often have a board or shareholders that they are accountable to. The good news about this dual nature that we find ourselves in is that the qualities that make a good follower are ones that help develop us to become great leaders. Patience, respect and trust are three of these traits.

Patience in Followership and Leadership

Patience is essential to achieving our goals. While it’s important to hustle and work hard, it’s also important to take some time to see if our actions are having the desired effect. Not all reactions to our actions are immediate and making adjustments to our plans too quickly can have more detrimental effects than staying the course.

As followers, exercising some patience with those who lead us allows them time to be deliberate and think through a problem in their decision-making process. While we may be anxious to start implementing the solution we have proposed to whatever issue is facing our organization, giving our leadership time to thoroughly consider options and impacts on the organization will ultimately result in better solutions. On a more personal note, having patience allows us to appreciate the moments when there isn’t a major intense crisis going on.

Great leaders recognize that being patient allows us to take time to let our initiatives and decisions work before correcting. Often implementing the solution to a problem is like trying to turn a very large ship around. After we start to turn the wheel, it will take some time and distance before we’ll see the ship start to turn. It will turn slowly at first, but eventually we’ll be headed in the direction we want. If we aren’t patient and turn too hard to make the ship turn faster, we will overshoot the course we want to be on and have to correct back to get back on course. Showing patience with the members of our team as they work through problems gives them more opportunities to grow and develop than if we hand them our preferred solution up front.

Respect – A Two-Way Street

Respect is key to building strong professional relationships among teams and between leaders and followers. Without respect, individuals can feel alienated and start to act in their own interests instead of those of the team or accomplishing the mission. When we are a member of a team and a good follower, showing respect for others on the team and our team leader creates an environment where it is safe for individuals to share their ideas and build upon them. Fostering respect on the team ultimately results in optimized processes and operations that help us better achieve our mission. Team leaders are responsible to build this culture of respect by setting the example of respectful behavior. Allowing individuals to present their ideas and be given full consideration goes a long way towards building respect among the team. As leaders, one of the best ways we can foster respect on our team is to provide constructive feedback and insisting the other members of the team do the same, even if the ideas presented are not fully formed or on the mark.

Trust

Much like respect, trust is essential to a team that wants to perform at the highest levels. Having trust in others on our team means letting them engage in their part of the effort without judgment. They may not do the job the way we would do it or as effectively as we think they should, but if the team is meeting the goals and accomplishing the mission, we can trust them to do their part. If we are team leaders and there is a lack of trust on our team, members start to hold back on ideas, engage in private conversations that don’t include all stakeholders and jockey for favor. When the team doesn’t have trust in their leader, individuals may put forth only the bare minimum effort or, in some cases, actively work against the leader or go over their head to higher management. Building trust in our teams involves letting people make mistakes and correct the situation. Leaders will always need to provide corrective feedback and in some cases remove a team member who is not performing, but having trust in our team members when they are making good faith efforts to contribute will build a stronger team that shows initiative and puts in the extra work when it is needed.

Patience, respect and trust are key traits that are needed by both followers and leaders to build successful, high-performing teams. We can actively become better followers and leaders at the same time by consciously exhibiting behaviors that are consistent with all three of these qualities.

Tell us in the comments what other good follower traits help with developing our leadership skills.

Photo Credit: By Thomas Wilson Pratt Slatin, http://www.tomslatin.com/ (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We all know the importance of good followership and showing trust and respect for the leaders who are appointed above us in our organizations. Sometimes we can experience an internal conflict when we disagree with a decision that our boss has made. We want to be good followers and support the decision, but also are concerned that the decision might actually prevent our organization from effectively accomplishing the mission. A tool that we have to deal with this is called the "One Challenge Rule" and it gives us an opportunity to respectfully approach the boss to voice our concerns. Used effectively, the One Challenge Rule lets us demonstrate good followership in a tough situation while still helping us look out for the best interests of our organization.

Good Followership

It’s pretty hard to come up with the name of a leader who started out at the top of their field. Almost everyone that we would consider to be a great leader started at some kind of entry level position and developed their leadership skills and technical expertise in order to gain positions of increasing responsibility. Working for other leaders gives us an opportunity to study leadership and develop our own leadership philosophy and style by observing the way others lead. Exercising good followership in our organizations is just as important to our professional development as looking for opportunities to lead others.

Good Followership and the One Challenge Rule

We all know the importance of good followership and showing trust and respect for the leaders who are appointed above us in our organizations. Sometimes we can experience an internal conflict when we disagree with a decision that our boss has made. We want to be good followers and support the decision, but also are concerned that the decision might actually prevent our organization from effectively accomplishing the mission. A tool that we have to deal with this is called the “One Challenge Rule” and it gives us an opportunity to respectfully approach the boss to voice our concerns. Used effectively, the One Challenge Rule lets us demonstrate good followership in a tough situation while still helping us look out for the best interests of our organization.

If you want to accelerate your leadership skills, the best thing you can do is jump in and start leading an informal that you don’t have any authority over. Find a project in your workplace that has been needing to get done for a while and take charge of it. Recruit and lead a team of your peers using these tips and you’ll be amazed at how fast you’ll see your leadership skills grow.

Accelerate Your Leadership Skills!

It is inevitable that one day our boss will say to us, “I need to you run this project/committee/event/etc. but I need you to do it in addition to all the other things you’re doing and I can’t assign anyone to you to help and the budget is really limited (or non-existent). I know you’ll be able to figure it out!” When I was in the Air Force these things fell into a category we called “Additional Duties”. If it sounds like a lot of effort and stress, you’re right, it can be. But these kind of additional duties can be a tremendous opportunity to accelerate your leadership skills, especially your soft skills like communication and negotiation.

Negotiation – The Key to Accelerate Your Leadership Skills

As you’re recruiting your team to be part of your additional duty project, making contracts with your peers is the key to getting a project like this off the ground and moving forward. Since you don’t have any actual authority over anyone on your team, being really clear about the role you want each of your peers to take on is essential to successfully negotiating their participation. Discussing with them the responsibilities you expect them to take on and getting their agreement to that role is essential. Keep in mind that they have other priorities and commitments and may not be able to commit fully to everything you’d like them to. If their participation is important to you, you may have to accept that they can only commit to certain key areas and you may have to get some additional help to handle others. Make it clear that you will be holding them accountable to the contracts they’ve agreed to absolutely necessary. You’ll have to continue to negotiate throughout your project when it comes to deadlines, product quality and even how you’ll know you met your objectives.

Goal Setting

Speaking of objectives, leading an informal team made up of your peers will really help you up your game on goal setting. In order to successfully negotiate with others what their role will be, you’ll have to make a really solid case for why they should join you in this endeavor. This forces you to come up with goals that are clear, measurable and achievable. Having your goals, as well as how you’ll know you’ve met those goals, very explicitly defined will make it much easier for others to understand the scope of the effort you’re asking them to put in and will make it easier for them to agree.

Perception

One of the often overlooked skills in leadership development is effective perception of moods and behaviors. Reading people’s tone, body language and expressions is just as critical as understanding what they are saying verbally (sometimes even more so). To successfully lead in a peer leadership situation we have to learn to open up our perception and use all of our senses to understand what is going on below the surface in our teammates. Being able to read these kind of indicators can tell us if one of our teammates is having trouble meeting their responsibilities, maybe having a personal problem that could impact their performance, or even starting to think that maybe the effort is no longer worthwhile. Most people won’t come out and openly state these kinds of issues, so in order to solve them, we need to develop our perception skills to be able to identify problems before they blow up.

Communication

“It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.” We’ve all been told that before (My mom was big on this one when I was a teenager). Just as it’s important to develop our perception, when we lead an informal team we need to be a little more concerned with how our words and actions are received. There are times to be direct and there are times when we have to take a softer approach in our communications. Keep in mind that negotiation is a key aspect of peer leadership and recognize when it might be necessary to create buy-in to an idea rather than directing it as the leader. We want to avoid alienating the rest of our team with poor or inappropriate communication so that we can keep moving forward to achieve our goals.

These are all skills that we can read about, study and take workshops to develop, but there’s no substitute for actual, practical experience. If you want to accelerate your leadership skills, the best thing you can do is jump in and start leading an informal team that you don’t have any authority over. Find a project in your workplace that has been needing to get done for a while and take charge of it. Recruit and lead a team of your peers using these tips and you’ll be amazed at how fast you’ll see your leadership skills grow.

Tell us in the comments other skills you’ve been able to grow though peer and informal leadership.

Photo Credit: John Chapman (Pyrope) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The challenges that come with exercising informal and peer leadership can accelerate the development of your leadership skills much faster than when you have all the resources you need at your disposal. Applying Informal & Peer Leadership They key to successfully exercising informal and peer leadership techniques to accomplishing your mission is to understand the difference between accountability, responsibility and authority. In the video, Jason provides working definitions of all three concepts and then provides 5 steps you can start applying today to build your informal team and lead them to a successful result.

Informal and Peer Leadership – 5 Tips to Completing Your Impossible Task

One of the most frustrating situations that a young leader can face is when they’ve been assigned to complete some kind of project or task but haven’t been officially assigned any people or resources to accomplish it. The assignment usually comes with very little guidance from higher up and some encouraging word to them that “You’ll figure it out!”. While this sounds like a horrible situation to be in, young leaders can view these types of situations as opportunities to grow their leadership skills in a different way. The challenges that come with exercising informal and peer leadership can accelerate the development of your leadership skills much faster than when you have all the resources you need at your disposal.

Applying Informal and Peer Leadership

They key to successfully exercising informal and peer leadership techniques to accomplishing your mission is to understand the difference between accountability, responsibility and authority. In the video, Jason provides working definitions of all three concepts and then provides 5 steps you can start applying  today to build your informal team and lead them to a successful result. Applying these 5 steps when building your team will help you understand priorities, clarify your expectations and improve communication between you and the members of your team while still managing time and resources wisely:

  1. Get to know the key players in your organization
  2. Build a strategy
  3. Get buy-in from others
  4. Be ready to negotiate and compromise
  5. Communicate frequently and appropriately

Try applying these 5 steps when building your team as you tackle your next project!

We’re all going to face at least one crisis in our careers as leaders and our teams are counting on us to lead them through these kinds of challenges. Often how we react to a crisis is more important that the actual crisis itself. It’s important to approach any crisis rationally and recognize that the problem is not insurmountable, but the extreme nature of the situation is usually a result of how quick the onset is. Crisis management is very much like dealing with any other problem or leadership decision, it just requires having a response that matches the urgency and gravity of the situation.

Crisis Management – 5 Steps to Get Through It!

We’re all going to face at least one crisis in our careers as leaders and our teams are counting on us to lead them through these kinds of challenges. Often how we react to a crisis is more important that the actual crisis itself. It’s important to approach any crisis rationally and recognize that the problem is not insurmountable, but the extreme nature of the situation is usually a result of how quick the onset is. Crisis management is very much like dealing with any other problem or leadership decision, it just requires having a response that matches the urgency and gravity of the situation.

Step 1 – Admit the Problem

It is absolutely astounding how often leaders launch into their reaction to a crisis without taking the time to admit that they have a problem and what the real problem is. Many leaders start to immediately tackle the symptoms of the situation without ever determining what the actual problem is. To truly get your team through a crisis successfully it is critical to determine what the actual problem is. Although it is important to determine the problem quickly, it’s important to avoid getting fixated on the first idea that is presented. Take a few minutes to ask some detailed questions about the problem and really make sure you’ve identified all the aspects of it. Missing one of these key aspects early could lead to problems implementing a solution down the road.

Step 2 – Investigate Thoroughly

Now that you’ve identified what the real problem is, it’s time to dig deep and get down to the root causes. Continue to ask who, what, where, when and why until you and your team are satisfied that you fully understand the causes of the crisis. This, of course, must be balanced with any time constraints necessary to implement a solution especially in an urgent, time-critical situation. A key point to remember is that determining the root causes is not to lay blame or point fingers, but to identify all of the areas that will need to be addressed in the solution and who the key players will be in implementing that solution.

Step 3 – Accept Accountability for Your Role

Once the root causes and key players have been determined, it’s important that you and your team take accountability for any role you may have had in creating the problem and accept your role in coming up with and implementing the solution to the problem. Also, hold others accountable to accept their roles in the crisis and solution as well. Recognizing and admitting these roles to ourselves and others is an important step that often gets overlooked and, without this accountability, and can impact the implementation and effectiveness of the solution.

Step 4 – Take Corrective Action

Now it’s time to come up with a solution and implement it. Methodically address each root cause and identify not just what the solution is, but who the key people are to make it happen. As the solution starts to take shape you’ll be able to find that some pieces of it will address multiple root causes and be able to streamline your plan. Once you believe you have a completed solution, circle back to make sure you haven’t left any of the root causes unaddressed. Implement the plan and monitor the actions that the team is taking to see if they are actually effective. If the solution is not having the intended effect, it’s okay to adjust, but don’t throw out the plan without giving it a chance to work.

Step 5 – Communicate Throughout Crisis Management

Although it’s listed as our last step, communication throughout the crisis management process is critical. Make sure to be sharing appropriate information to your leadership, your team and other appropriate stakeholders. You may have to communicate to customers, the media or the general public. Stay focused on the message of what the problem is, the root causes and the solution. As we talked about before, assigning blame is not usually productive at this stage so focus on root causes and solutions. You will have to make a decision about how quickly to tell your leadership that the crisis has occurred. If you can work through the steps and implement a solution very quickly, it may make sense to tell them after the situation is in hand; but letting them know right away that you’re on top of it and working on it is usually a good call.

One point to emphasize is that while the five steps presented here are deliberate, they can actually be performed very quickly, sometimes in a matter of a few minutes. Dealing with a crisis in a time critical manner is often the key to success and it’s important to balance how long you take on determining causes and solutions with correcting the problem quickly. The best way to save time in this process is to deal with the accountability aspects of the crisis early. As the saying goes “Accountability never goes out of style” and your leadership will appreciate it if you hold yourself and others accountable without unnecessary finger-pointing.

Wishing you all the best next time you have to handle a crisis situation. Tell us in the comments the steps you use in your crisis management technique.

Photo Credit: By Americophile (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Evil Genius Leadership Consultants is extremely proud and excited to announce our very first Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum! We're gathering up young, ambitious leaders and business owners as well as aspiring leaders to talk about the leadership issues and problems that you face every day. Our goal is to create an open dialogue about the challenges you face in your workplaces with the managers who lead you, your peers and those you lead and supervise. We really want to make sure that we're doing good work for the community and addressing the challenges you actually face as leaders, not just what we think you might be dealing with. Please join us on October 27, 2015 at 7 PM for the Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum at Findlay Toyota in Henderson. We'll be in the conference room with some refreshments and ready to listen to what you have to say!

Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum – October 27, 2015

Evil Genius Leadership Consultants is extremely proud and excited to announce our very first Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum! We’re gathering up young, ambitious leaders and business owners as well as aspiring leaders to talk about the leadership issues and problems that you face every day.

Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum – Goals

Our goal is to create an open dialogue about the challenges you face in your workplaces with the managers who lead you, your peers and those you lead and supervise. We really want to make sure that we’re doing good work for the community and addressing the challenges you actually face as leaders, not just what we think you might be dealing with. Our agenda is flexible but some of the items we’re looking for input on are:

  • What is leadership?
  • Leadership vs. Management
  • Leadership Styles
  • Creating a Vision
  • Communication and Public Speaking Skills
  • Problem Solving and Decision Making

Please join us on October 27, 2015 at 7 PM for the Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum at Findlay Toyota in Henderson. We’ll be in the conference room with some refreshments and ready to listen to what you have to say!

 

Findlay Toyota

7733 Eastgate Rd.

Henderson, NV 89011

 

Directions

Screenshot 2015-10-14 10.27.15

Recognizing new, fertile ground for ideas isn't just for marketers or startups, leaders in any discipline can benefit from learning skills for finding new opportunities.

Finding New Opportunities – Evil Genius Leadership Book Club November 6, 2015

As we frequently talk about with our clients and in our posts, personal and professional development are key to growing into strong leaders ready for the challenges of tomorrow. Approaching development from the perspective of a student of leadership as an art and science is an effective way to absorb new ideas and incorporate them into your leadership philosophy and style.  This kind of development can be difficult to do on your own if you don’t have a group of other leaders to discuss and debate with. We want to help build a strong community of leaders who have a forum to discuss the ideas that are on their minds. This month we will be discussing storytelling as a method of communication to those we lead and others around us.

Finding New Opportunities – Using a Blue Ocean Strategy

Life in the 21st century has taught us that doing the same old things the same way we’ve always done them is not a solid strategy for success. Leadership in the digital age is going to revolve around finding new opportunities and pursuing them before others recognize them. In Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne show us how to create new opportunities that others haven’t seen yet. Recognizing new, fertile ground for ideas isn’t just for marketers or startups, leaders in any discipline can benefit from learning skills for finding new opportunities. Join us on Blab on November 6, 2015 at 10 AM Pacific time to discuss how we can all benefit as leaders from the lessons provided in this book.

Preparation, training, and skill will all serve us well as we tackle our next big crisis, but the one key factor that impacts the ability to successfully navigate a crisis is taking accountability early on and throughout the situation.

Taking Accountability: The Key to Leading Through a Crisis

 

As much as we all try to plan well to avoid crisis situations, it is inevitable that we will face a crisis sometime in our careers as leaders. Preparation, training, and skill will all serve us well as we tackle our next big crisis, but the one key factor that impacts the ability to successfully navigate a crisis is taking accountability early on and throughout the situation.

4 Tips for Taking Accountability in a Crisis

The most important step for taking accountability is to admit there is a problem in the first place. Accepting this truth is necessary and it’s surprising how many situations spiral out of control because we can’t admit to ourselves that something is wrong. After thoroughly investigating root causes of the problem, it’s important to take accountability for any role we and our team might have had in causing the crisis. It’s very difficult to implement a solution if we haven’t addressed any procedural or team issues that might be barriers to implementation. Once the solution has been determined, we need to continue to hold ourselves and any others accountable to perform their role in the solution until the crisis is over. Finally, taking accountability to communicate the problem and solution to any key stakeholders is important throughout the crisis situation.

If we find our opportunities to lead limited in our workplace, there are other places we can go to practice and develop our leadership skills. Our communities are in need of leadership at all levels in a variety of organizations.

Finding Opportunities to Lead in Our Communities

One universal truth that I have found about leaders is that once we have committed ourselves to the study and discipline of leadership, we are always looking for more opportunities to lead and make a difference. We start to develop a talent for seeing ways to improve products, services or experiences in ways that make our customers, co-workers and even our own lives better. We become focused on improving ourselves and our environments but we can often run into roadblocks when looking for leadership opportunities in the workplace. Our employers have set certain priorities for the organization (rightly so) and often we don’t get opportunities to develop our leadership skills as quickly as we would like. In the best cases, employers who believe in developing the leadership abilities of their employees are trying to develop all of their people, so we have to share the leadership opportunities with others and in many cases compete to lead the best projects. In the worst cases, employers just don’t care about developing leadership on their teams and there are few opportunities. Just as it is important to be good leaders we need to be good followers and trust the judgment and priorities of the leaders above us. Although we may feel underutilized as leaders in our workplaces, there is a solution to developing your leadership skills outside of work.

Seeking Other Opportunities to Lead

If we find our opportunities to lead limited in our workplace, there are other places we can go to practice and develop our leadership skills. Our communities are in need of leadership at all levels in a variety of organizations. There are any number of groups such as schools, churches, business organizations, youth groups or even sports or recreational groups that are always looking for people to step up and take charge of projects they want to get done. Many of the groups in our communities are understaffed and while they may have a number of volunteers to participate in activities and projects, they are limited in how quickly they can accomplish their goals because they are in need of ambitious leaders to take charge of many of the projects and initiatives they want to accomplish in their community.

Getting Started with Community Leadership

Start out by looking for a community organization that is a good fit for you. Look around at several groups in your area and find a group that fits your interests and core values. The idea is to connect with other people who are making a difference in the community in a way that resonates with you. Much like starting a business or making your workplace better, think or a problem that you’d like to see solved in your community and find a group that works on solving that problem. If you don’t consider the organizational goals and values before you join, you may find yourself struggling to lead a project you don’t believe in which can leave you as frustrated as you are at your workplace. You may have to pay your dues for a little while in your new community organization, again followership is important, but showing initiative and taking on a project that the group needs to have done will give you some valuable experience in leading others.

You’ll often have to lead people who are committing their extra time and they may not be able to contribute as much time as they would like to. You’ll have to be very organized and have a plan to recruit enough people to your project to make sure you can meet your goals. You may even have to be responsible for raising money and managing other financial resources. One of the things that you will find if you are leading a community or volunteer group is that you will be working with people who come with varying levels of skill and ability. This will really force you to think about your philosophy and methods for training and developing others to be able to perform their roles in the organization and how much supervision you really want to have to give them on a regular basis. Also, because many people in community groups are volunteers you won’t have any direct authority over them to influence their contributions. You’ll have to get very good at your soft skills like communication, empathy, persuasion and negotiation to bring all of these volunteers together to achieve your goals.

Finally, even if you are getting all of the leadership opportunities that you want in your workplace, consider taking on a leadership role in a community organization. Giving back to our community helps solves the problems that our friends and neighbors face, makes our communities more livable and warmer and better places. It also makes us feel better about ourselves and give us some satisfaction from bringing some good into the world.

Tell us in the comments where you seek your additional opportunities to lead.

 

Photo Credit: By Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/1352630) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

There are many community groups and organizations who are looking for aspiring leaders to come in and take charge of their efforts. One of the most important things we can do as leaders is take on community leadership and give back to the people and organizations that make our cities, towns and neighborhoods a better place.

Community Leadership Challenge

 

It can get really frustrating sometimes trying to find new leadership opportunities in our jobs. There are only so many projects and tasks at work where we can really flex our leadership muscles. We often have to be patient until those opportunities arise which is not always in alignment with our goals for professional development. How can we as aspiring leaders continue to develop our leadership skills and leadership style when opportunities in the workplace are not readily available?

Community Leadership as a Solution

Part of the answer lies in getting engaged in our communities and seeking out opportunities to lead. There are many community groups and organizations who are looking for aspiring leaders to come in and take charge of their efforts. One of the most important things we can do as leaders is take on community leadership and give back  to the people and organizations that make our cities, towns and neighborhoods a better place.

This week’s leadership challenge is to get out in the community and find an organization that is looking for some help and turn that into a leadership opportunity. Chances are, somewhere in your community, there is a school, church, volunteer group or other organization that is looking for someone to come in and take on a leadership role for one of their projects. In addition to the great feeling you’ll get from giving back to your community, you’ll gain valuable experience and perspective on how community leadership can help you grow and gain perspective as a leader.

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