Rosana Nedelciu

Dezvoltare personală și profesională, cu cap și cu drag 'Smart with Heart' personal&professional development

The Willingness to Follow Builds the Ability to Lead

In a time when more and more people feel the need to leave their mark on the world by becoming leaders, it takes a special kind of courage to show that you actually believe in someone other than yourself. Simply because that would put you on the second place of “the follower”, of the person who recognizes Value in someone else and promotes it, or supports it.

To stand behind a Value that is not yours takes confidence, emotional maturity, and an extraordinary ability to appreciate the value of others, as opposed to a generally “me only” orientation, through which, sadly, most people are trying to prove their worthiness.

“I can do that, too.”

“I know better than you.”

Are expressions often found in the professional world. Everybody could do everybody else’s job, supposedly with better results, if only they wanted to. Everybody dismissing everybody else’s abilities with a condescendence that says “What you do is not so interesting to me to do it myself, but if I wanted to, and I’d do it, I’d be so much better at it than you are.”

On the other hand,

“Thanks! Your idea has opened a new perspective for me.”

“I really appreciate your input.” or

“I’ll stand by you on this.”,

Although signs of maturity, personal strength and character, have come to be regarded as signs of weakness. And when advice is sought, it’s done behind closed doors. “Please don’t tell anyone we had this conversation.” Or, when that is not possible, and good advice is given, the person receiving it never forgets to end the dialogue with “That’s exactly what I had thought of myself.”

It’s not an enigma what feeds this behavior. It’s the fear of losing the image around which one’s status is built. The status of the brightest, the most efficient, the most creative etc. The status of the best or the first. The status of The One and Only.

It’s not uncommon for team members to steal ideas from their colleagues and quickly run to their superior and present them as their own. But while this doesn’t happen every day, I have observed that something else tends to, especially at management levels. More and more managers pinpointing how valuable their ideas were to others, how much support they give to others and how their colleagues would not perform as well as they do, without their contribution. More and more “wonders of nature” who not only seem to not need/get any contribution from others, but who contribute to everyone else’s achievements.

This rotten behavior is fueled by a miserly interpretation of Leadership as Competition, and especially in organizations where the principle used in managing people is “Divide and conquer”. In organizations where the employees saw that a “Man is wolf to man” approach was the most efficient in climbing up that hierarchy scale or maintain the status quo. When, in fact, Leadership is about Cooperation, about bringing people on the same page, about togetherness.

Which is why I believe that the definitions of Leadership should put more emphasis on a Leader’s ability and willingness to stay “in the shadows”, to promote and support a Value that does not belong to him personally. The ability to take on that dreadful second place.

The Head of an organization should also be the Tail of it, by nourishing a culture of mutual support. A culture that sends out a simple, but powerful message as “I, the Leader, believe in each and every one of you, the people in my company. And with every decision that you make, you should know that I’ve got your back.”

In such an environment, creativity and initiative would flourish. Based on this simple principle, companies would ensure for themselves not only a healthy growth at all its levels, but also a promising pool of True Leaders who will always be the first to put themselves on second place.

(foto: Autoportret, Ion Țuculescu)

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