How to Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

It’s an old saying you’ve likely heard before. For anyone who owns a business, this phrase is counsel that may be hard to do. For all the owners out there, all three counts in this simple mantra may be nearly impossible.

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First, to Lead

On one hand that seems obvious. You own the business, who else would be leading it? Well, it might not be you. Leadership is much different from management. You might be managing the dickens out of your business, but still not really leading it.

You might even be crazy busy, but not providing key leadership when it is needed. Entrepreneurs, by their very nature, are driven. They have vision. They are inspired to do something great. Yet having those wonderful ideas and inspirations won’t make you a leader. Yes, you will have the power of the position, but you will not be leading.

The drive that makes an entrepreneur want to do something can become your worst enemy. If you suffer from SOS (shiny object syndrome), you will never plot a course for success. The next big thing might be a distraction rather than benefit.

The cure is taking time to learn about leadership. Seek counsel. Unless you are one of the rare few who were exposed to leadership thought and theory along the way, you will need to grow before you become a true leader. Yes, there are an even more rare few who seem to have been with natural leadership talents. Congratulations if this is you. Sadly, for the vast majority, leadership is a refined and leaned skill that must be nurtured.

To Follow

Being a follower is not a bad thing. One of the best leadership principles I was ever taught centered on the idea that in order to be a good leader, you must first be a good follower.

Following is not just blind faith. Rather it is commitment to pay attention t the one who might be leading. Observe the good with the bad. Learn from the experience following others. If you are blessed with a good, perhaps even great leader, watch what they do. Study how they inspire and draw others in.

If, on the other hand, your leader is not so good, be diligent in the discipline of following anyway. The worst case scenario is that you might learn what never to do again.

Get Out of the Way

If either of the first two choices are not available, then door number three is needed; get out of the way. Never become a stumbling block for those around you who might be leading the charge forward with a faithful following. If you are not chosen to lead, and you don’t want to follow, then never be the bad egg who sits and pouts, making trouble for everyone else.

I’ve watched whole careers waste away as someone chooses to be disgruntled over the state of affairs. Others are getting promoted and the ideas that are happening are not acceptable either. Folks with this mindset are very frustrated human beings. You likely have know a few.

The simple answer may have been to merely get out of the way.

Question: Where are you today? Are able to lead, follow or get out of the way? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

It’s your choice. GO for it!

PS – This post was written weeks ago and scheduled for today. Ironically, where I live, just outside of Houston, Texas, the whole area has been hammered by historic and “catastrophic” rains from Hurricane Harvey that have caused thousands to lose their homes to flooding. Leadership is at a premium. Local leaders, politicians, first-responders, Coast Guard personnel, and dozens of other agencies I can’t even list here have mobilized to respond. Lead , follow, or get out of the way has been the battle cry. I am proud of the ways all parties have circled their efforts to coordinate and collaborate.

Yes, as this event drags out, certainly nerves will fray and exhaustion will set in. Then we will see who the true leaders may be. We will also see who the pretenders are. True leadership will win the day. I have trust in many. They have proven their stripes with similar circumstances and will do so again. Pray for this region as we deal with record-breaking water accumulation, run-off, and flash flooding.

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