You’ll never be a good leader without first learning to be a great follower.

There are so many valuable lessons which come from the experience of being on the team and doing the work over time.  Communication, coordination, program and service delivery, project management, learning about others and yourself, specific talents and knowledge, knowing your customers, and resource and time management are skills and assets developed over time.

We should not promote people solely based on subject matter knowledge or tenure, but it takes time to learn the people, organizations, partners, customers, and fundamentals of your business.   It takes time to build the relationships you need to succeed.

Front line supervisors are critical to culture and performance.  A major complaint about them can be they were not ready for the change in roles and responsibilities.  Doing the work and leading those who do the work are two different functions.  Master the first to help you excel at the second.

Following sharpens skills that are needed to be an effective supervisor such as listening, communication, project management, mentoring, and teamwork.  It deepens our understanding of important values such as humility, honesty, hard work, learning from our mistakes, thinking of others, and professionalism.

Experience is a wonderful teacher, but the classes take time.   Those who would successfully lead are patient.  We realize it is a journey not a destination.

You don’t want to jump into leadership too soon.  It’s never good when someone is promoted too quickly or promoted beyond their current leadership ability.  I talk to so many CEOs who credit the time they patiently worked their way up the leadership ladder as being vital to their long term success.

Embrace the process.  Take your time.  Don’t be in a rush.  Let others tell you when you are ready.  It will be clear.

Let your promotion be for the right reasons at the right time.  If you do, you’ll be the best leader your team can have.  You’ll be the leader everyone would want to follow.


From the Teacher: Leadership Lessons with Dr. Saviak is a weekly column with the esteemed Joseph C. Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S., Management Consulting & Leadership Training.

Featured Image: Horrible Bosses, IMDb