February 08, 2011

Why I like to lead

I've been looking forward to the beginning of this module for some time now. Leadership is a topic that has begun to interest me more and more in the past few years, probably because I became more involved in roles that required it! It is one of the reasons I decided to embark on a postgraduate degree in management, having come from an engineering background.

The Lifeboat task was very interesting. While we at no point elected a leader, or even discussed the matter, I think the fact that Paul gave me the pack was enough to make me the de facto 'facilitator', if not more. I was happy to take this role, I seem to actively pursue leadership opportunities - I always want to have my say... perhaps I do not have enough trust in others!

However, it made me think about that fact that quite often, a lot of people don't want to be leaders, they are not interested in it, and relinquish the opportunity quickly! Why? I don't know... I think I used to be like that. There are many possible reasons people don't want to take charge, such as, but not limited to: lack of confidence in self, unwilling to be accountable/responsible, liking things how they are, would rather get on with their job and excel in it, etc.

I think, for myself, the first reason was applicable. I never wanted to be in charge, as I didn't think I could do a good job, and I was worried of looking like a fool. I certainly no longer have that fear! ;-) For me, it was the experience of having to take charge, because no-one else would (or wanted to), that pushed me towards where I am today. My self-confidence was burgeoning at that point in my life, and I was ready to take that step. Now, my experiences feed my desire. In that sense, I think Surya made a valid point in the class discussion: having leadership experience IS necessary to be a leader, because you have to WANT to be a leader, and the only way to understand that desire is to have enjoyed previous leadership experience. However, that experience doesn't have to in any way be formal - I was an older brother, a reliable and persuasive friend, a hockey player demanding of my team mates, etc... and all long before I actually actively wanted to lead anyone, anywhere!


- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Heyy Yanik,
    When talking of the need for experience, do you think the experience of being a follower is important too, in order to be an efficient leader? In order to understand how to direct, is it important to put yourself in the others’ shoes so as to exactly manage how ends can be met?
    In my belief, this may help in realization, of how the motivation aspect of effective leadership can be attained. This, to me is like looking at the situation from the other end..
    Whatsay?

    08 Feb 2011, 23:10

  2. Hey Awal, it’s a good question!

    I think experience of being a follower is very important. But it is also the ‘norm’ if you see what I mean. It has been stated repeatedly that we have all played the role of leader at some stage in our lives, and that is true. However, I think that the majority of us have even MORE experience of being a follower: in our young lives, we are first lead by parents, then school teachers, then managers at work. Amongst our friends, often there is a leader of the group, with others playing that role at different times. By the very nature of followership and leadership, there have to always be more followers than leaders, so I think we all get plenty of experience in following.

    When it then comes to being a leader, I think it is sometimes a hard adjustment to make. You have to be one guiding others, rather than just going with the crowd/majority. To do that consciously, you need to put time in to think how you can do this effectively, so you can relate to others WHY it is in their interest to follow you. You have to understand them, their drives and motivations, in order to get the best of them. It’s hard because everyone has a slightly different set of motivating factors.

    To answer the question directly, I think you do need to have followed to be effective/efficient at leading, but I also think that everyone, without exception has followed somebody, sometime. There is no-one, ever, who had led everyone they came into contact with, from the moment they were born. The reason I’d put forward for this, is that to be a leader, is to have learned something already. If you are not in someway better positioned to lead than others, well, then why would they wish to follow! Haha! For me, knowing I can benefit from someone else’s leadership is what would motivate me to work for them.

    09 Feb 2011, 13:34


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