Listen to Understand

In every organization, people have similarities and differences. It is important  for a leader to be aware of the perspectives and backgrounds of their followers. One way to do so is to consider and verbally ask three questions when getting to know a group: “How am I like everyone else here? How am I like some people here? How am I like no one else here?” These questions help cover all the bases when first meeting a group.

Another way to understand and show respect to others is by studying the history of their culture and by taking time to get to know their individual story. By doing so, you not only foster loyalty in the individual, but you also get to know their strengths and weaknesses and can more effectively delegate duties to improve the group. The leader also benefits from hearing someone’s story. The more they listen, the more they understand.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (Covey, 1989). Communication is already complex; it is doubly so when participants fail to listen and understand what the other is saying.

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References

  1. Covey, S. (1989). The seven habits of highly successful people. Fireside/Simon & Schuster.
  2. Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2009). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. John Wiley & Sons.

 

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Popularity vs. Respect

Leadership, in one sense, is a balance between being likable and respected for your integrity. The disparity between these extremes is exaggerated when the ethical standards of the leader and followers are at odds. To be fully “liked” by their followers, a leader would have to change his standards to match theirs.

On the other hand, when an ethical corporate culture exists, everyone is on the same level and empowered to keep each other accountable. In such a situation, a leader is respected if he takes the high road when facing an ethical crossroads.

Like a common vision unites the efforts of a team, a common set of values will guide them in constructive dialogue and decision-making. A leader can be both respected and liked when the ethical standards are high for every member of the group.

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References

  1. Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2009). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. John Wiley & Sons.

Followership

While I’m often placed in leadership roles by default when no one else steps up, I resonate deeply with the idea of good followership. In most cases, I would rather have someone else ~ a good leader ~ in the official role while I do my best to be a support and an enabler.

A classic example of this followership role, and one I aspire to emulate, is the Proverbs 31 woman. In this case, the leader is the husband, who we know sits with the elders of the land and is known by people. The woman is neither idle, nor a mindless follower of her successful spouse, but rather a leader in her own right as an industrious homemaker and woman of God.

If we test her against Latour and Rast’s (2004) follower competency chart, I imagine we would find her to be a prime example of a competent leader-follower. After all, she is loyal to her family, functions well as a team-member, thinks independently, and is her own type of leader.

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Update 4/26/17:
Over the course of the leadership minor, I have developed my confidence as a leader. Today, I embrace official leadership roles and feel prepared to deal with whatever situation might arise. Previously, I could only manage a follower role because I had a tendency to over-commit. As a college senior, my time management skills and ability to set realistic expectations for myself have significantly improved.

It’s exciting to re-read my first post within the leadership minor and to realize just how much I’ve learned.

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References

  1. Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2009). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. John Wiley & Sons.