The recent Presidential election posed this thought for me, are we to follow our leaders unconditionally? Or, is there some statute of limitations that allows us to ethically no longer follow our leaders? If you read my post last week, you realize that I am not questioning my loyalty to our President. However, many in our wonderful country are.
Many leaders are faced with the challenge of leading people who just do not want to be led. It happens to every leader. There is someone on your teams, that just does not want to hear what you have to say, be motivated by your words and action, or follow guidance – regardless of how beneficial it may be for them. Some are just naysayers and others have a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. Did the person who refuses to follow your lead, apply for the job you now hold? Were they burned by the last person who held your current position? Or perhaps, they simply need more in-depth support and one-on-one training/time with you.
As the leader of your team – business, organization, division, etc. – chances are good you have someone you report to as well - your leader. Look back at the reasons why your own team members did not follow you – initially, because you were able to turn them around, right! What were their reasons? Were they valid?
As you address your leadership, do you agree with everything they say and require? Is there anything that strikes you as odd? Do you then, follow your leaders unconditionally, or are they certain things you are just not willing to do?
OK, let’s frame this question a little bit. I am not talking about clear ethics violations such as embezzling or fraud. What about differences in leadership styles or interpersonal skills?
What happens when you are directed to perform some action that you disagree with, like terminating a long-term employee, changing processes (for no apparent reason), implementing new policy that has an adverse effect on your team, and so on. The presumption here is none of these decisions are due to changes in the law – here, you likely do not have a choice. Do you follow your directions, simply because your leadership directed you to do so?
Hopefully, your leadership serves you well, and explains certain decisions in enough detail for you to understand their stance and why you are being directed to make certain decisions. Just as important – if not more so – your leaders should delegate certain freedoms and responsibilities to you to make decisions and lead your team in your own way.
Back to the question, do you follow your leadership unconditionally? I say no, but with limitations. I do not follow my leadership blindly, I establish rapport and build faith in them, and them with me.
1. Leaders should be given some level of autonomy to lead their own team in a manner they find conducive to meeting their team’s and organization’s needs. Realistically, your leadership and you should be working towards the same goal, so this should (should) not be a huge issue.
2. As the leader of your team, you should be consulted regarding decisions that affect your team. If this is not happening, then address it with your leader immediately.
3. Discuss issues and ideas with your leadership to come up with a mutually beneficial idea whenever possible.
Some decisions, you and I just won’t have a say in. It then comes down to, can you get behind your leader and support their decision? Remember, you too will place your subordinate leaders in these positions, and they will be faced with the question, can they get support you unconditionally? Keep this in mind as you choose to follow your leader – conditionally or unconditionally.