Knowing when to lead and when to follow

I can tell about myself, that I get a lot of energy and meaning, when I am in a leadership position. Being responsible for a team of other human beings is very challenging and, also very humbling. But what does it mean to lead a team? And what has following to do with all of that?

Does leadership mean, that I always determine the direction? Does it mean, that I have to be perfect? I think that both of the above are certain paths to failure as a leader. For me, leading means serving and empowering others. What can I do to help my team to be not only content but also to perform at their best? As this topic is very dear to me and extensive, I want to write about when it is time to lead and when to follow.

When am I able to lead? Of course, skills are important, especially people skills. I should be familiar with the material or topic. I should have a team, too. But those things are fairly obvious. Did you ever approach the question from a holistic point of view? Everything is interconnected. It means, that when I am stressed or I have problems in my private life, it won’t take long until it affects my job, too. Or what, if I am sick for a while? What if I know, that someone else knows way more about the topic than I do? Is it really healthy to hold tightly to my leadership status? And maybe a better question:

Is giving power away really a loss of strength?

I want to argue that. I want to give you a current example. I am/was responsible for a small team. My goal from the very beginning was to give them more and more responsibility. Now, it just happened that I couldn’t really work for two weeks. Partially, because of good things and partially, because of not so good things. However, in my absence, they did a fantastic job and handled everything very well. Now, I am back and I am happy to give them the lead of the team. I can always support them, when they need me, but it doesn’t make sense to come back and take back all power only because I like to be a leader of a team. The reasons are simple. At the moment, I don’t have the same energy level and giving away responsibility gives me time to get back to my old state. And on the other hand, I can empower others to experience themselves in a new role.

I think that now is my time to follow and you can argue with me, but I believe that this too is a form of leadership – When you know when to lead and when to follow.

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