Jun 9, 2011

Following the Leader

Over the last many months, I have marveled at how the leaders in my organization work and how a 100 year old organization creates leaders who at the same time are good followers as well.
A lot has been written about the "Leader" and everything that a Leader is supposed to do or not do to be successful. Very little is written about the follower. Every successful Leader was once a follower and a good one at that. In high school I read a short story about "The Accompanist" - it was about a Tanpura player who played with the Maestro. It was about the dedication and selflessness with which the accompanist had to do his job. I really did not get the point of the story or the deep significance about being a good follower - not trying to out-smart your Leader - especially a really good one. 

To be a good leader, you have be a good follower as well . You have to follow your own words and your actions will speak louder and people will see it. The way you follow will impact the way you lead. Just like an accompanist, a Leader has to follow the market, has to understand the mood of the market, has to react to those subtle changes in mood, temperament, audience. He has to follow his employees, understand them and on many occasions take cue from that and lead them to a common goal. Only then can they set the agenda to control that environment and be a master of the environment.

A good leader always listens to others. This skill comes only after one becomes a good follower first. A good follower is also one that comes with no emotion or the ability to control ego and emotion. This is very required to be a Leader as well. A small but essential learning.