When A Leader Holds The Team Up

Great teams are usually made up of a group of great leaders.  A great team of leaders, when working effectively, can do remarkable things.

But I’ve also experienced a group of great leaders be a colossal disaster together.   Slow, redundant, ineffective, bureaucratic, argumentative, territorial – if there is a negative adjective you would use to describe a team, it probably fits.

The danger for all great leaders is not learning how to follow.  Not every leader leads all the time.  You have to follow too.

That’s a distinctive of a great team – their team members have learned the art of following.  While they are all exceptional leaders, they know when it’s their turn to lead and when it’s their place to follow.

Why is this so hard for us?

Following implies submission and oftentimes leaders allow our pride to keep us from submitting to others.

In team situations, there will be times when you need to submit to the direction of another leader even if you would handle the problem differently.  I see this all the time in teams.  One team member who is responsible for a division develops a plan and begins leading his team through it when another leader chimes in and suggests a different way to approach the situation.  While voicing concerns is appropriate and helpful, once you’ve shared your thoughts you must allow the person tasked with the responsibility of leading through that decision to make his or her decision and move forward.  Too often I see teams become paralyzed because too many leaders are chiming in with their opinions on issues.  Again, there is a time for feedback and input and then there is a time to get out of the way and allow the one tasked with that leadership decision to lead.

On your team, when are you the leader and when are you a follower?

Watch for the temptation to always have the last word or to hold onto a conversation until the decision feels more in line with how you would do it.

If you are always the hold out, you may be the one holding things up.



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