I know the saying is actually lead, follow or get out of the way. However, that is simply not my experience as a leader.
There are the types of professionals who really are great leaders. They constantly create and share new ideas. They are provocative – stretching other people’s leadership ideals to new levels. They push others into areas of growth professionally, personally and spiritually. I love hanging around these kinds of leaders.
As a matter of principle, I try to emulate this kind of professional.
Then there are the kinds of professionals who are willing to jump into the pit of someone else’s new ideas but not create and release their own. They love the intellectual stimulation, and often times glean practical ideas that can be easily implemented.
To be fair, this doesn’t mean they always agree with the new ideas. However, great followers look for the nugget of truth that can be used to improve any situation.
Great followers also offer great feedback. Often times perfecting the ideas with the leaders.
There is nothing wrong with being a good follower. We must learn to follow well before we can lead well. Great followers gravitate to great leaders and together create a powerful circle of influence.
Then there are the others.
The kind of professionals who refuse to take a chance and lead while at the same time refusing to follow. Call me crazy but my experience is that these types of professionals rarely, if ever, “get out of the way”.
For some reason they feel like it is their job to protect everyone from new ideas and creative thinking.
They inject themselves forcibly into almost all situations playing an entirely different role.
The “Devil’s Advocate.”
You will know your dealing with one when in almost every setting they play the same role.
“Let me be the devil’s advocate here.”
“Really, that would be great.” …“NOT!”
People are born to lead and follow, it’s in our DNA. The roles we take are predicated on the situation we serve.
But the devil’s advocate often stands in the way of any new ideas and all thoughts being shared and perfected. They are a stumbling block for leaders who are brave enough to offer new and thought-provoking ideas. They are a hindrance to followers who are willing to listen and respond appropriately.
Often times, the devil’s advocate intellectually sword fights with the leader in hopes of gleaning affirmation from the followers.
This is why my experience is; lead, follow or get in the way.
- As a leader, share your ideas with an open mind. Be willing to adjust them to sound critical thinking.
- As a follower, listen carefully searching for the nugget of truth. When appropriate, contribute in a positive way to the conversation.
- As a devils advocate, do us all a favor…get out the way, please.