Leadership Involves an Interaction Between The Leader, The Followers, and The Situation

I have always felt that in order for a leader to succeed, they must have good people working with them. As time passed I began to analyze different situations and look at the impact of the situations surrounding the events.

I have had the privilege of serving the roll as a follower for a few supervisors and felt most satisfied when the confidences in my abilities were rewarded. When I finished my undergraduate degree, my supervisor at the time recognized my desire to do bigger and better things. He recruited me into a special project on improving employee morale. I was given the opportunity to explore my own interests and develop the initial program to be used at all locations.

My direct supervisor was a wonderful leader in that he allowed those with drive to shine. As this project was underway, I had more motivation to go to work and put in the time necessary to complete the project on time. The motivation was by no means monetary. I personally felt rewarded in knowing that my supervisor had the confidence in me to allow me such an opportunity. From this experience, I was able to learn, and hopefully one day apply, the skills of that type of leadership. He was always available for questions and advice, but encouraged me to look to new ideas and in the end he gave me the credit for my work. When this project was completed, I went back to my job and still had that renewed sense of motivation I found on that project. In this, I found that being a follower in that situation was rewarding both spiritually and professionally.

Working for my current supervisor has been a little different. He fits the role of the “manager” and does not like to stray from the status quo. Recently we had a discussion about changing the way we do training within the company. He expressed how he would like to see things done as compared to how it is currently done. I expressed to him some ideas and the intermediate steps between here and there. On multiple occasions, he said “It’s always been done this way” or “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. As the conversation proceeded, I found myself becoming frustrated and unattached.

That evening I was reflecting on our meeting and began to get frustrated with myself for not being a good employee. I wondered if I was just not communicating effectively or if we just did not work well together. I figured the latter part was not the case as him and I have work closely on other projects effectively. This led me to believe that perhaps I was failing him as an employee.

Where my manager wants to stick to the status quo and complain about things not happening, I want to get out there and make a difference in the workforce. Our methods of change are night and day. He prefers to leave things as they are until there is a crisis, then it is the managers role to fix the problem. For me, I prefer a proactive approach and operate under the mantra that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

I understand now that it is not a matter if I am a good follower to my manager. Instead, there seems to be situations in which we complement each other’s styles and it will continue to be the situations in which we are in that define our interaction. This is not to say that I will cease in trying to be an effective follower, but I will be more aware that the situation is such that perhaps a different approach may be necessary.

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