Leadership Position, Follower Mindset

Richard Branson once said, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”

This sounds great in theory and can serve as motivation to set one’s goals high, but it’s all for naught if there is no willingness to get dirty and to actually learn what it takes to be successful in the management role.  Respect for position only goes so far, as ultimately, employees must recognize the person in the role for their ability to execute. 

On the flip side, management is not for everyone and leadership is not everyone’s strong suit. While there are elements that can be taught, there are certain traits one either possesses or they don’t. There are certain things that must be seen in order for employees to “fall in line” and to produce for them.

richardQualifications, certifications and allegiances can get you in to management positions…but results and know-how will keep you in it. Know-how beyond the terminology, processes and regulations…knowing how to inspire people when all seems lost. Knowing how to react in those unscripted, non-textbook management moments. Knowing how to take a punch (not literally) and keep moving as not to be consumed by the past, but to focus on future needs and learning from the blow.

Now when I speak of a follower’s mentality, I’m referring to people that are ok with relying on others to do the heavy lifting. Those that are content with doing just enough to get by. Those that want to fly under the radar so they’re never responsible for making the hard decision. People with this mindset cannot effectively lead or be in charge because they will be viewed as a leader by position onlyHow is one to know if they’re in this category?

You may be viewed as a leader by position only if…

You’re Out Of The Loop Regarding Important Decisions

For your opinions to be valued, you must have some. There is definitely a time and place for the “strong, silent type”, but silence when words and direction are needed is a management nail in the coffin. Sometimes the only way to quiet the chaos in the workplace is for a leader to confidently speak peace to the situation.

Once other leaders feel your contribution to the conversation is meaningless, employees will take notice and figure that they shouldn’t waste their time relying on you either. There are very few instances where fellow decision makers should bypass your input for that of those that don’t have a true vote or the management insight that you should possess.

You may be viewed as a leader by position only if…

You Get No Respect

thumb-frabz-Tough-crowd-no-respect-dbff09According to SBA.gov, there are several reasons managers do not get the type of respect they should or feel they deserve:

  • Failing to see signs of employee issues
  • Ignoring needs, especially for development
  • Not asserting oneself when it’s necessary
  • Inability to make crucial decisions

Leadership requires seeing the field from a broader view. Being able to recognize things when those who are in the trenches don’t or can’t. As an employee, I must be able to trust the person that I’m following knows where we are going and how to get there…and at the very least knows how to find out quickly if they don’t.

When people are new to leadership roles, it’s critical to their success and tenure they not come in pounding their fist and barking demands, but setting a clear tone of what is expected and what things will not be tolerated when it comes to performance, standards and conduct. When employees do not get a sense that there will be consequences for falling short, they will dare and test the manager, at times being blatantly disrespectful or insubordinate.

When thrusted into a position of “power”, there are times when you can’t worry about being liked or cordial. While people may not like the decisions that are made, at the very least they must be able to respect that something was done and that you acted with the organization in mind.    

Teams must have confidence in their leadership for them to truly be effective. When the manager is shaky and lacks confidence, employee’s confidence in them will be shaky also. Decisions that are made will always be questioned…management missteps will always be magnified…and someone will always be waiting for you to fail and to be unseated. The confidence exuded by those in leadership will reflect in their people and in the results. The mentality of those that are in leadership must be different from those that are assigned to follow, and the window in which it must reach this point is a small and critical one…and that mentality must be evident in every action and decision made.

So while one may be credentialed, they may be better served to be a credential and smart follower, leaving the leading to those are prepared to do whatever is necessary to move the needle.


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