The best leaders know when to lead...and when to follow


Despite holding many senior roles, I have learned the hard way and later than I'd hoped, the necessity of moving between all three roles as the situation demands.

Let’s start with role of leader. It took a while for the penny to drop, that getting on with people, being respectful and being fair, was just the tip of the iceberg of effective leadership.   I have learned that believing that my point of view was best and ensuring I got my point of view across to get the result I needed, was absolutely NOT being a leader.

One size does not fit all situations!

Similar to a game of poker, where the dynamics shift with each card played, effective leadership demands understanding the situation at hand. It requires the ability to read the situation and then assess the available ‘cards’ - intelligent follower, the manager or visionary leader – and strategically play the best one for the situation.

While I am not a good poker player,  I understand that to be a better leader, I need to lead myself better in EVERY situation. Relying solely on my past strengths and playing the same five cards over and over is not effective leadership.

Now, I pause, reflect and think about what each situation needs, as the situation is changing.  I listen more attentively and stay consciously aware of what is needed.  It is much easier not to have to be the expert and to appreciate the expertise in the room, thus getting the right result for the business.

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