“If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then, to make sure it’s still there.”
I love Will Rogers … now let’s talk leadership.
The leader out in front with their faithful dog trotting next to them, while the masses stumble along behind … Nice image.
Now let’s talk about that dog.
All leaders need counselors, others who can advise them and help them with the burdens of leadership. This is a very good thing, which many have to learn the hard way. You cannot do it all yourself.
However, some leaders fall under the sway of those who profess to help them, but who give poor counsel. Think Grima Wormtongue advising King Theoden in LOTR: The Two Towers. You cannot always count on a real obvious name to tell who the bad advisors are.
Well, would YOU listen to someone named Wormtongue?
So how do you know when you are receiving good advice from your faithful advisor? Here’s some thoughts on that:
When they are so right in what they say that you have to admit it.
You know, when you have that feeling inside as they talk – “I know, I know … sigh” If you hate hearing what they have to say, that is especially telling, since good advisors do not specialize in good news, but hard news.
When they recommend courses that offer no value to them, while benefiting others.
While some are awfully good at hiding their true agenda, my experience is that most people’s motives, whether altruistic or self-serving, are not all that difficult to discern. Just stop and think about all the consequences of doing or not doing something … which you should do anyway.
When they are consistent and do not let the changing details of a situation change their advice on how to reach a goal.
Speaking carefully here … I am NOT advocating sticking to your guns, regardless of reality. Changing details which demand change in tactics are part of life. An advisor will acknowledge that and suggest changes that still move us toward our goal.
That’s assuming the goal is a valid one in the first place.
The great danger for a leader is that their relationship with an advisor is that the relationship may start to affect your evaluation of the advice. When someone else is with you for a long time, when you have worked together and accomplished great things, when you become used to asking their counsel, …. well, be careful.
As the leader, you still bear the greatest responsibility
Now, about that “checking behind you” think Rogers points out ~ we often think that if we just take off, others will follow. They might, it’s just not a sure thing.
People follow when they trust you …
People follow if they know where you are leading them …
People follow when they understand why you picked that direction …
Just be sure your faithful and ever-present “servant” is truly serving you and your cause as you amble off into the storm.
Off on a tangent about leading and following in the Heartland …