Sunday, February 24, 2013

Good Leaders Need Good Followers

I had the wonderful experience of teaching a Customer Service class, to students trying to learn phlebotomy, and the topic of leaders and followers came up. I had explained to the class that to be able to be a good, credible leader they need good followers to carry out their vision. One student objected saying that she thought the word follower was derogatory to people by considering them less than leaders. So here’s what I explained;
·         Leaders can hold any position in an organization-A leader is someone that expresses a vision so that it can be completed and made a reality. Leaders do not have to be people in management. They can hold any position in a company. These are people with ideas, mantras, or expectations and act on these.
·         Good followers are necessary-As leaders create an idea, create a mantra, or communicate expectations it has to be done with charisma, a firm voice or plan, backing by management, and good followers to complete their vision. All a good follower means is there need to be people willing to listen to leaders and willingly execute the task, mission, and expectation at hand.
·         People willing to follow-The reason the term follower is not derogatory is because there are those working in organizations willing to be a good follower. Professionals are more than willing to arrive to work daily and complete any task given to them, follow processes, or fulfill expectations at a very high quality. These people have no interest in being a leader because they like completing tasks for the betterment of the department, branch, or organization.
·         Followers can become leaders-Anyone interested in leading can do so. Please realize that if this path is chosen you have to be comfortable that it will be expected consistently. This is where committing to leadership roles needs to occur. The organization isn’t wrong for expecting workers to lead consistently if done once. As long as the person is comfortable with these expectations than they should be the best leader possible.
Review top notch companies and you’ll find leaders existing in many parts of the organization holding a variety of positions. This helps the organization become stable, extends its life expectancy, and helps it grow and evolve, and become a good community partner.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Culture and Change

Every week my group presents its weekly intraday reports to the leadership team. This includes supervisors, managers, and directors, so there is quite a variety of people that can establish culture and change it when necessary. The reason I present that combination is because leaders can fall into a culture rut. Each week the leaders get critical about the work presented to them, take an hour to decide a plan of action, and decide on putting several confusing action items together to solve departmental issues. This of course should be completed usually within a half hour. Usually what comes out of this is a rushed group trying to complete multiple items, with the problems not completely solved and the fingers of blame pointing in several directions.

This scenario, to me, is an example of culture and one that is in need of change. Culture can be defined as processes taken to complete daily tasks, how they are communicated, how consensus is reached, conflict management, and items learned to be able to complete tasks more efficiently. Instead the department has many opinionated, agenda driven speakers vying for their agenda to be heard. I think as a group we all need to decide that its time for a culture change.

Some ways to do this is limit the number of participants perhaps on a rotational basis so different leaders can be heard and can communicate with their respective teams. Another thought in changing the culture is to present a solution to any problem presented as a team. This removes blame and inserts constructive steps. Another thing is to have weekly forums involving the entire group. This can be a great place to communicate expectations and goals. Finally I think it is imperative to communicate lessons learned and talk about better ways to organize tasks, run meetings, and communicate with one another. It will be beneficial for production, group confidence, and cohesiveness.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I recently read an article that mentions the fact that the workforce needs to be able to adapt to changing conditions. They need to be able to be proactive with their professional growth and instead of being comfortable employees need to willingly step out of their comfort zone and try new things. I agree with this line of thinking, heck I developed a blog and seminar called the Career Makeover, actively promoting the thought that the workforce is in charge of their own career development. That people need to actively receive training to develop new skills in an ever changing climate. I even suggested workers need to try to interview for other positions just to get a feel for what other organizations consider to be relevant skill sets, and to hear the type of processes and procedures used today. Readers should read my blog at especially as I develop more content.

As I sit back and digest the article and my own beliefs I also feel it is the responsibility of leaders to encourage their direct reports to receive training to develop new skill sets, ask them to read more (its ok if the reading is industry or non industry related), introduce them to the world of social media, and even be confident by inspiring co-workers to interview for other positions. Don't be afraid of change to your team, challenging people in a positive way, or for them to succeed. Leaders need to step up and provide a path for employees to follow. Development plans are crucial because this is where information can be gathered to see what each individual person is thinking as far as how they want their careers to progress.

I think this part of leadership and team development has become a lost art because today's business society is so results driven. All customers have to be serviced, survey results need to exceed expectations, dollars have to come in. Those are all necessary but they don't have to come at the expense of a team's development.

Sometimes people become stagnant or stale because they are afraid to try new things, or we just get comfortable because we are creatures of habit. At times we just lose sight of our own goals for our careers and we as leaders need to step away from daily demands for our organization and step up and let our team members know its acceptable to blossom professionally and create the best path for them to achieve new successes. SFNBJQ25JKNC