Leadership and Followership in a Team Setting

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Many solopreneurs work in a team environment either with their client's staff, or with subcontractors. Having spent over 20 years in a teaming environment before becoming a solopreneur 13 years ago, I know that during the course of any highly functioning team effort, the leadership and followership roles flow back and forth between the members.

An observer of such a team would see that at any moment, the person on the team who has either information, wisdom, or creativity to offer steps quietly forward to assume the leadership position. After she has delivered her knowledge to the group, she then steps quietly back into the role of a follower, as the next person slips into the leadership position. This ebb and flow of leadership and followership is one of the hallmarks of a highly-functioning and productive team.

"So you did this just because all your friends did it? If all your friends laid down on the tracks in front of a train, I suppose you would too? Do you want to be a follower all your life?" ? Your Mother

You Mother was right. To be effective in today's teams, you can't be a follower all your life. You need to step out into the glare of the lights and assume the leadership mantle, contributing your unique specialness, knowledge, and creativity to the group. In this way, the work product of the team is strengthened.

This leadership role is not granted you by title or position. Instead, you take on the role voluntarily. And your team members grant you the role because of your expertise, credibility, reputation, or influence. In other words, it is a temporary role on the team that you earn over time.

To be effective in this type of leadership role, you must first secure the respect of your team members in at least one of the following three areas:

1. Knowledge. You must have respected expertise and proven judgement in areas relevant to the team's goals.

2. People Skills. You must care about your team members and value the team's goals.

3. Performance. You must show that you are willing to take on tasks and activities that actually help the team meet their goals.

To build respect and credibility in either of these three areas, you must first be a terrific follower. Not the type of follower your Mother railed against. But the type of follower who is committed to helping the team reach their goals. A follower who contributes focus and influence to getting the work product delivered to the required standards of quality and timing. A follower with a courageous conscience and controlled ego. A follower with the ability to think creatively and critically, who is self-motivated, proactive and self-disciplined.

This week, monitor your role on the team's of which you are a member. Are you shifting smoothly in and out of the roles of leadership and follwership as appropriate to you and the team? Or are you failing to step into the leadership role when appropriate? Or failing to step back and contribute in the role of a follower? What could you change about how you shift between these roles to better contribute to the team?

Copyright 2004, Rose Hill, Inc


Rose Hill, Founder and Owner,of Biz Whiz Expert ( and Team Member of Solo-E.Com (http://www.Solo-E.Com) has been self-employed since 1990. Knowing how to run corporate departments and how to market corporate entities, products, and services did nothing to prepare her for successfully running and marketing a one-person business. That is why Rose created the SoloBizVille and SoloBizU community - to specifically to help solo entrepreneurs jumpstart their business success without all the trial-and-error learning.


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