Individual Reflection: Following and Leading - Essay Example

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Carnegie Mellon University
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There is so much literature about what effective leaders do, what characterizes them, what their competencies and familiar patterns are. Many programs teach us to be leaders and give us "protocols" and models to be, gurus who say what is what the "leader of the future" must do to continue to achieve sustainable results and competitive advantages in a globalized environment in constant change. We speak of what leaders have to do or should do to be effective, and own consideration of leaders.

All these approaches (without devaluing their tremendously valuable contribution) have in common the fact of putting the focus on the figure of the leader and praising their importance in the process of leadership (Hamlin, 2016). However, very little is said about how leadership works regarding the process, beyond its incarnation in a concrete figure, beyond the occupation of a certain position of authority and influence within an organizational structure and the well-intentioned collection of information about "great practices."

All relationships of leadership presuppose follow-up. A leader is judged by the number of followers that he has, however, it remains unnoticed that for followers (and get them to follow their "leader" effectively) previously it is necessary that there is follow-up by the leader (Morris, 2014). It is impossible for employees to follow a leader who does not listen and follow the needs of the employees

Each time a leader leads, one primary skill in the intricate process of leadership is his ability also to listen and follow the employees. A leader has to follow customer preferences and responses, the leader also needs to follow his development and his sense of how he is doing, needs to follow the needs of collaborators and colleagues, follow and listen to their suggestions and ideas.

A leader has to show his employees or followers that he can follow, and they will, in turn, follow him as well. These complex dynamics are not easy but many leaders are just intent on leading, and they do not focus on following. Leadership becomes very frustrating when the leader only wants to lead and not follow (Morris, 2014). When a leader tries to influence someone whom he has not previously "followed," the odds of success are greatly reduced. Our business landscape is full of examples of this type: managers who make a bold effort to try to get their people to assume more significant shares of responsibility, initiative, and commitment, but with rather frustrating results.

This opens up many possible areas for intervention: how to teach managers and managers to follow before leading, how to train employees and associates to lead their managers, to show them how they need to be led, assuming a much more active position, committed and responsible in the process itself (Hamlin, 2016). Leadership and follow-up skills should not be an exclusive monopoly of who has teams in their charge or holds a position of authority in their organization. They should not even be a monopoly of the business world, because the same complex interactions are given every minute between couples, family, friends, with ourselves. This is part of one's repertoire of vital skills to be more efficient and obtain a more significant source of enjoyment in our relationships and our life in general.

Some managers complain that their teams do not follow them, they do not do "what they have to do." To hope that employees will follow without first being followed will only result in frustrating results.


Hamlin Jr, Allen (2016). "Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture".

Bellingham, WA: Kirkdale Press.

Morris (2014). "Constructions of Following from a Relational Perspective: A Follower-Focused

Study". Journal of Leadership Education. 13 (4): 5162.

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