Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

A Great Leader is a Great Follower

Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 8, 2008

I read another fantastic leadership article by Executive Coach Carol Giannantonio.   Carol is a success coach to the executives at major corporations.  There are a couple of key points in the article and it is nice to see more leadership gurus in the world referencing the thoughts from Chris and my book – Launching a Leadership Revolution.  The readers of this blog deserve the credit and praise for promoting the book and selling over 100,000 copies for charity.  Keep it up and let’s see who else will reference the leadership principles.  God Bless, Orrin Woodward


“The world needs transcendent leaders whose eyes we trust, whose heart we know, whose soul is rampant in all that they do” – Robert Rabbin.


What does it really take to be a great leader?


As an Executive and Business Coach, I ask my clients this question when setting leadership goals. One of the first steps in achieving success in leadership is creating a vision of what a great leader means for you. This vision, along with a plan, continuous action, courage and commitment create some of the “greatest” leaders.


Many of these great leaders “follow in the footsteps of other great leaders and use coaching to reach their leadership goals. Why? Because coaching is a powerful tool that involves lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, raising their performance to a higher standard, and building a personality beyond its normal limitations to its full potential.


So as you set off on your quest to becoming a great leader, here are two steps you may want to “follow”.


1. Develop “Double vision” – Great leaders have a “vision” of what being a great leader means for them. They know what it looks like and feel like and they act accordingly by practicing good leadership skills. It also means having “vision” In this case I mean the ability to talk about the future as if it were already here. Steve Jobs often does this. He creates a clear picture in people’s minds of how a new product will change the world — before it’s even launched. He gets people excited about the future he sees in his mind. That’s an innate talent. Stepping out on a limb like that comes much more naturally to some people than to others. The good news is, if you haven’t got that skill, you can develop it!- It’s not so much about your own technical expertise as it is about inspiring other people to be better at what they.


2. Become a great follower. Along with the skill of vision and leading comes the skill of “ability to follow”. What I mean by this is the ability to identify and follow the patterns of success within your organization-follow the footsteps of others who are “great leaders”.


Here is what other great minds say about this concept.


In “Reinventing Leadership”, Warren Bennis wrote, “Good leaders should also be good followers. If you’re coming up within an organization, you must be a good follower or you’re not going to get very far. Leaders and followers share certain characteristics such as listening, collaborating, and working out competitive issues with peers.”


In “Launching a Leadership Revolution”, Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward, stress the importance of becoming a Performer in leadership development-the need to create a record of performance. “You need to become a great follower, a great contributor.”


According to Brady and Woodward, the quickest way of gaining a track record of performance is to master the patterns of success already established in your organization.


Thus, the goal of every leader is to become a “Performer” who successfully works with and master the existing patterns of success within the organization.


As a successful “Performer” you have the knowledge and expertise to help others accomplish similar results. You gain recognition, respect and power in the organization. You have influence, another key ingredient to successful leadership.


Sam Rayburn says it all in this wonderful quote: “You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too.” 

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