How Easy Are You to Lead?

I speak and write often about the concept of 360 Leadership. The idea of 360 Leadership is simple; you can lead today, right from where you’re at in your organization. It doesn’t require a raise or a promotion or a fancy title, all it requires is a decision that says I will lead today.

360 Leadership means that you lead in all directions – you of course lead those below you on an organizational chart, you lead your peers across from you on an organizational AND you lead above your position on the organizational chart.

It’s the last one, “leading up” in an organization that is tough for many people to grasp. Many people believe it is wrong or even impossible to lead the person above them on an org chart. After all, that person above you is most often your boss and you can’t boss the boss.

Leadership however isn’t about bossing, it is about influencing. You most certainly can influence your boss IF…

I could write for hours on that “IF.” To keep this post from going on forever here’s what it amounts to: to have the opportunity to lead up in your organization two things must happen. You must be a great follower and you must lead yourself very well.

If you want to know how you measure up in those two areas then consider this question: If your company was struggling and needed to let people go would they be looking for ways to keep you or looking for reasons to keep you? If you have the courage to answer truthfully then you’ll know exactly how you’re doing.

There is a world of difference between the two. That difference is almost completely within your control.

When you decide that you want your organization to consider you a “must keep” you’ll see that being a great follower and leading yourself well go hand in hand. You’ll also see why being a 360 leader is the surest way to job security.

360 leaders largely ignore their job descriptions, they do everything listed on it but they also do so much more. They will work alongside their peers to help them succeed. They will “lead up” by helping their leader accomplish more. They will do whatever is asked of them, no matter who asked it. They will do it all with a positive attitude and they will do it because it is the right thing to do.

When you’re a great follower and lead yourself exceptionally well you become easy for leaders above you to lead. When you’re easy to lead your influence grows and it grows in every direction within your organization.

Choose to lead today and your chances for success in your organization and life go way way up!

13 thoughts on “How Easy Are You to Lead?

  1. Reading your post I reflect both on its implications for educators as well as a TED video posted a while ago on the importance of “first followers”:
    Both funny and connected to your topic, it is worth a look.
    Schools are facing tremendous cuts and in this time many administrators are asking the exact question you pose: how can we keep this teacher or should we keep this teacher?
    Thank you for the post- business minded but educationally relevant.

    1. Thanks, I think that same conversation happens across businesses and industries all the time. If more people realized that they would make more of an effort to make themselves “must keep.”

  2. Well written Steve. I agree completely with the statement “You must be a great follower and you must lead yourself very well” the most difficult thing that I have ever done is a honest self evaluation. Once I identified how I was responsible for my actions I became more committed to being a great follower. This is not following blind, but rather doing what I am charged and then looking to see how I can assist another team member.

    1. Absolutely Mark, you can’t be a great follower with your eyes closed. Being a good follower doesn’t mean being dumb about following, it means following with a good attitude, one that always looks for a way to add value!

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment Mark, I appreciate it.

    1. Thanks Steve, it’s true, the best chance anyone has of being a great leader is to learn how to follow well first. Too many potential leaders forget that simple fact.

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