How To Lead and How To Follow

For part of yesterday, Danny and I had to spend time in two different vehicles. At one point, I was leading because I had the GPS. For those brief minutes, I was a wreck. (Not literally, just emotionally.) I was concerned about going too fast and losing him, which I did for a minute. I had trouble focusing on the road in front of me because I kept looking in the rear view mirror for him. And I almost drove right past our destination because I lost focus on where we were actually going.

Leading is difficult, whether it's in a car or in a leadership position you've been given. From the time I spent as a leader yesterday, and the time that followed as a follower, here are a few lessons I quickly learned.

* A good leader has focus on the road ahead of them. I spent more time looking behind me to check on things than I did on the road and the traffic around me. This misplaced focus could have been incredibly dangerous if I wasn't paying attention. A good leader will see both the road and the destination and trust that the followers will follow the route they set.

* A good leader has trust in the people following them. In that one minute that I couldn't see Danny in the line of traffic behind me, my confidence in my leadership abilities plummeted. I must have done something wrong or he would have been there. A good leader has faith that the followers are then, and the followers need to reiterate that they're there. It may not always be a visible following, but it should be.

* A good leader can set a steady pace. It's incredibly difficult to follow a vehicle that can't maintain its speed, decide which lane to be in or which exit to take when the time comes. That breaks down that entire feeling of trust and safety that the leader is working so hard to build. A good leader will find consistency and make the job of following that much easier and more enjoyable.

* A good follower has trust that the leader is going down the right path. Danny knows the roads and I know that Danny knows the roads. I still had the GPS, but I had complete trust that my husband knew where he was going. That trust is what gives the leader respect and power to maintain their leadership role.

* A good follower is willing to run interference. The traffic around us didn't care that we were going the speed limit and definitely didn't know that we were travelling together. Being in the back, I was able to protect Danny from being run over by the drivers who wanted to exceed the speed limit and possibly cause accidents. A good follower will do whatever is necessary to protect the leader from the people around them.

* A good follower will follow at the safe and proper distance. It was much easier for me to stay at the speed limit and drive safely because Danny was. I could have ridden his back bumper, pushed him along and made him anxious as all get-out. But that could have caused an accident and it would have been my fault, not his. Keeping the pace the leader sets gets everyone involved in the groove so they can focus on moving efficiently down the path.

Some days you're the leader and other days you're the follower. You can take all the lessons you learn from being one of them to excel at being the other.


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