“Life’s a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.”
Song lyric, by John Michael Montgomery
Which are you: a leader, manager, or follower?
More importantly, which should you be? Can you be them all? Should you? It’s an important choice.
Too often, leadership is lionized while management and followership are disparaged. Big mistake.
We submit that great leadership is a situational blend of leading, managing, and following.
Manager: Traditional notions of management involve:
Many people use “management” and “leadership” interchangeably, but there are important differences between them, even though both are needed for organizations to function well. There are hundreds of definitions of leadership and adjectives that describe the leadership (visionary, charismatic, servant, transformational, etc.).
Leader: Traditional notions of leadership involve:
Follower: Followers are essential for any organization. But passive followers are not as useful to achieving organizational objectives as engaged followers.
Passive followers are:
Engaged followers on the other hand are invaluable to an organization.
Engaged followers are:
Manager, leader, follower: different roles. But the complexity of organizational dynamics does not allow for clear separation of these roles.
At the best, people are not only leading, or managing, or following. These activities ebb and flow in the same person, depending on the situation, the people, and the choice of the person. A dynamic dance.
Sometimes we must lead; sometimes we must manage; sometimes we must follow. They go hand in hand—more than we think.
Great leadership is a situational blend of leading, managing, and following.
Bob and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, are co-authors of and speakers on Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, winner of the 2013 International Book Awards (Business: General). Twitter: @TripleCrownLead, @BobVanourek, @GVanourek
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