Grand County/Marianne Klancke: Which comes first, the follower or the leader?
March 23, 2008
The symbiotic relationship between the follower and the leader is as mind boggling as the age old chicken/egg dilemma for which there seems to be no clear understanding of origin. In both of these combinations, one depends on the other for its definition and purpose.
Our communities are preparing once again to choose our designated leaders. At the same time we are consequently determining our followers. One does not exist without the other. Leadership refers to the communication (declared and demonstrated) which influences change in the behavior and action of others in order to satisfy group goals.
Follow-ship, by my definition, is the same. There is no personality trait that leaders have that distinguish them from followers. Group participants, leaders and followers alike, come in all shapes and sizes, equipped with wonderfully varied skill sets and talents.
What are we looking for in a leader? As it stands our board members, mayors, and county officials provide leadership services such as communicating, initiating, investigating, coordinating, facilitating, choosing, developing, overseeing, maintaining, and fulfilling.
Leaders, on the other hand, are looking for much the same services from contributing constituents. Logically the decision-making process and the subsequent implementation of tasks require participation from the whole membership for compliance and completion, not just a small handful of leaders.
Followers must effectively communicate their desires, influence decisions, and provide the energy to take action. Emerging from the leader/follow-ship pool there must be many people who contribute to attain the group’s determined goals. From this combination the common denominator between leaders and followers is communication.
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Communication is the key activity of both leaders and followers. We influence the attitudes and actions of others by what we say and do. This relationship creates the sense of our community and translates into our coordinated goals and efforts. The entire system of leader/follow-ship is dependent upon each member’s willingness to authentically express what they think, feel, and hope.
All players have essential reasons to demand clarity in communication. Followers will not follow if they do not trust that their leaders are forthright with communication and leaders cannot lead without declared opinions and directions from the followers. Failure to communicate leads to a breakdown in the group in every way.
Leaders are not mind readers. Representative government does not mean dictatorship. Taking the lead should not equal taking on all of the burden for all of the tasks. Leadership actions can be successfully shared by all.
Followers are not mindless. Representative government does not mean that individuals have no further input. Following the leader should not equal not participating at all. Follow-ship actions are always the tipping point for success.
As a life coach, I support individuals to succeed in all that is significant to them. These motivated individuals proceed as if success depends on their attitudes and efforts alone, functioning as both self-leader and self-follower combined. In other words, they are the champions of their personal goals.
We as a community have a symbiotic system of leaders and followers. The next time you are choosing your leaders, know, too, that you are defining our community’s followers. Collectively, in all of our roles and actions, we are the champions of our community goals. Remember we are all in this together.
” Marianne Klancke is a certified professional coach and group development facilitator. What are your coaching questions or communication concerns? She welcomes any comments email@example.com.