Leadership: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way
Learn to lead.
Welcome to an exploration of Leadership. At the core of the matter, the ability to lead, inspire, and achieve is a collection of the most valuable skills a person can attain. These tools will help you in the workplace, relationships and group/personal goals.
The timeless reason to dive into how to lead others is due to the fact that everyone deserves to be led fairly, ethically and competently. For far too long, people around the world have suffered daily working for oppressive and selfish authority. The hopeful aspect is that it doesn't have to be this way.
There are countless ways to learn and practice leadership, and over the course of this series, titled Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way, we will explore tactics, questions, life lessons, and strategies to get the most out of our leadership experience. This is for bosses, leaders, followers, and people who want to be better at life. I will also be linking helpful books in every part of the series to inspire on-going learning of this topic.
Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss is an excellent starting point, because he shows us in his book how much we can learn from other people, if we just have the nerve to ask. "Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask." (Ferriss, 2017).
Remember that as we go along, it takes years to learn this skill, but if we learn to work as a team, trust each other and determine that our vocation can be realized. This is the meaning of Leadership.
John C. Maxwell tells us in his book, The 360° Leader, “Leading in all directions will require you to learn three different sets of leadership skills... up, across and down” (Maxwell, 2005). As human beings, we generally try to focus on one or two of these sets. It’s too difficult to be a decent person to everyone, right? Wrong.
To more fully examine what John Maxwell is attempting to educate us on, let us first understand what up, across, and down means. Simply put, up is how you work for your boss, across is working with your peers and finally, down is working for your subordinates. But of course, this can be examined much further, so here we go.
Lead Up. Everyone has heard the old adage, you must learn to follow before you can lead. Persons of power and authority who are put in charge of you will generally fall into two categories. Good and Bad. Usually, we learn the most from bad bosses, because we clearly understand what not to do. Remember this going forward, learn what NOT to do.
Lead Across. Peer to Peer leadership is tricky, because it is not clear-cut. Working together on projects instead of working for someone or someone working for you means tact must be invoked at some level. Learning to lead someone that you do not have any institutional authority over is a tightrope act, but with leadership skills these work relationships can turn into friendships that end with every goal and project becoming a success.
Lead Down. The key here is don’t become arrogant. The people you have been given responsibility over do not consist of mindless robots. They have hopes, dreams, and aspirations just like you. Don’t forget where you came from as the rungs of the authority and responsibility ladder are climbed higher and higher.
To recap on the Introduction and Lesson One, ask questions to the problems in life that you wish to solve. Only with the active pursuit of knowledge will one become hungry for the truth. Start to observe in day to day life how you can become a leader with influence in all directions. Soon, with practice, there will be a multitude of opportunities to grow as person and leadership skills only develop with knowledge and practice.
Thank you for joining the pursuit of leadership and keep a look out for weekly installments of Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.
Ferriss, T. (2017). Tribe of Mentors: Short life advice from the best in the world. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Tribe of Mentors Introduction
Maxwell, J. C. (2005). The 360° Leader: Developing your influence from anywhere in the organization. Nashville, Tenn: Nelson.