Following a Leader


One of the first acts of leadership – even Rod, seconded this (or rather it was the other way round), is that you must first learn to be a follower! Quite a few of my friends disagree on this. But well, I kind of feel the truth is yes. May be you are not following a person, but you are pursuing an institutional cause which both you and the person together ought to pursue. So you follow either the cause or the person.

One of my professors Dr. Venkat, has been teaching us Transformational Leadership and the Power and Influence in organizations. If you do not understand all the three, you make a mockery of yourself. A few of my friends argue on righteousness – Adhering to moral principles! Wow – when you cannot define what morality is how can you define what moral principles are? Too heavy a word to use? Transformational Leadership (I forgot the article which quoted it: my LIP materials are out of reach – So will update the source as soon as I reach them!), is a combination of idealized influence – where managers are role models, inspirational motivation – where leaders motivate the followers, intellectual simulation – where managers encourage innovation, individual consideration – managers act as coaches and advisers to associates. While many of my colleagues here have desired to kind of disagree that such kind of a leadership would work – which many would not accept in the public, some are not willing to realize that it takes time for this work! It definitely cannot happen overnight.

The reason I got this into the picture is, I have read many articles (Thanks to Dr. Venkat), from a leader’s perspective, but from a followers perspective, the leadership completely fails if the follower fails to recognize the presence of either of these factors or fails to acknowledge their presence. This is happening in one of the cases which I am practically observing from the past two days (I would like to maintain the privacy of the individuals involved). If the follower fails to realize the motivation they are getting from their leader or fail to recognize a source of motivation, if the followers fails to see the seed sown for innovation and leader effectiveness in promoting activities and finally, if the follower gives up on the advice and the coaching given by the leader – I doubt if this would work!

What is left open in the end is how and when do followers realize that there is an increased sense of collective identify and common mission and what is the ideal time for them to realize it in a short-duration program?

Moving on, there has also been an occasion of leader-self sacrifice, which has been suggested to be an effective act of leadership that communicates a leaders dedication to the collective good (Van Kippenberg and Van Kippenberg, 2005 – in the Applied Journal of Psychology) – but again how long do you think the leader’s sacrifice will be sustained for the collective good? Would the leader be missed later? – May be yes. A sacrifice of position by a leader, may push him or her out of the horizon, then what is the use of the gained trust if that results in a system going down? – Debatable.

If leaders have the option to choose a follower, then I think the follower must mostly be selected on value congruence – if time is a factor. The value systems going together may probably result in ease in achieving a collective goal.

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About amarharish
Was working as a Consultant for Five Years. Moved on to pursue a Masters in Management at Great Lakes, Chennai. Interests include Hi Tech, Brands, Quizzing, Leadership to name a few!

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