Can you lead by following?
This question is one that just keeps on nagging at me, especially as I have entered leadership roles in my schools. First, I think one of my favorite videos on leadership is Derek Siver’s Leadership from the Dancing Guy. This video really drives home the importance of having followers. I believe it takes real guts to do what someone else is doing, especially if it is different. Anyone can lead, but if no one is following you then you are just on a walk.
This year this answer to this question has become a resounding YES.
The first time I heard the “yes” was while I was visiting with someone from central office. His piece of advice was not to overshadow my principal, but be a resource for teachers to come to. He, of course, suggested the servant leadership principle.
Not even a day later, this article surfaced on my twitter feed. Not once or twice but several times. I think it was the universe’s way to emphasize the importance of being a good follower. I continue to reread this article when I have doubts about my role in the school.
I’d like to believe that I am leading at my school by being a resource for various teachers and staff. I am also leading by admitting that I make mistakes and I apologize for them. I am leading by noticing the hard work my teachers, students and staff do every day. I am leading when I empower students with the skills they need to be successful in the classroom. I am leading when I make the principal look good.
I may not be the principal, but I am a great follower.