Are you building a leader-follower or leader-leader culture in your business?

Do you know the difference between the leader-follower culture and the leader-leader culture?

Royston Guest
In one of his favourite topics, Royston Guest talks about creating a leader-leader culture. Watch the film and then read the article to provide additional facts. Remember, this is a game-changer, so taking time today, will pay off in the long run.
We have also provided a toolkit for you to download and distribute to your team members.
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Reading time: 4 minutes; 9 seconds

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Which kind of leader are you? 

Which kind of leader are you? If you’re a sole trader, it’s probably fair to say leadership responsibility sits entirely with you. If you’ve got a small team, the responsibility still rests with you, but you now need every single one of your people aligned and performing at their peak. If you run a much bigger operation, creating consistency and building strength at every level is critical to succession planning.

So we have three different business models with varying numbers of people, roles and seniority, bringing various complexities and challenges. Does each model require a different style of leadership? Maybe… or maybe not.

As Jack Welch so eloquently put it ‘before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.’

One of the most competitive advantages for businesses today is their ability to grow, nurture, and develop leadership and management capability faster than the competition; future business success depends on it. 

Which kind of leader are you?
There are usually two distinct groups of people: leaders and followers. And the fundamental question you need to ask is this…‘in your business, are you developing leaders or followers? How you answer will undoubtedly give some insight into which kind of leader you are.

A leader who adopts the ‘leader-follower’ model
The leader-follower model has been with us for generations and is perpetuated through businesses today. A hierarchical, command and control structure with decision-making from the top is what we know, and for a good reason. 

Throughout history, many outstanding achievements have been accomplished through the leader-follower model, enabling many people to succeed in their chosen field. It is because the leader-follower way of doing business has been so successful that it is so hard to give up. 

In our modern world, the most important work we do is cognitive, and the leader-follower structure isn’t a perfect model for intellectual work. Differing motivations and aspirations, particularly from generation to generation, only exacerbate the problem and demand an alternative approach. 

People who are treated like followers have the expectations of followers and act as followers. That means they have limited decision-making authority and little incentive to give the utmost of their intellect, energy, and passion. Those who take orders usually run at half speed, under-utilising their imagination and initiative. 

In a leader-follower model, all decision-making defaults to the leader and therefore, the business gets squashed, constrained, and contracted, reducing the headspace to grow.

It can be particularly challenging when the leader is exceptionally charismatic, or worse when they’re an out-and-out autocrat because the ability of people to shine is increasingly limited over time. 

In a leader-follower structure, the performance of the business is closely linked to the ability of the principal leader. There inevitably is a natural tendency to develop personality-driven leadership. This approach might deliver short-term results but will never allow you to build a high-performing, sustainable, legacy business. 

A leader who adopts the leader-leader model
A leader-leader model is fundamentally different from the leader-follower model. At its core is the belief that we can all be leaders, and it’s best when we all are. 

The leader-leader model achieves remarkable improvements in effectiveness and morale and strengthens the business. Critically, these improvements are enduring, decoupled from the leader’s personality and presence. 

Leader-leader models are significantly more resilient and do not act as if the designated leader is always right. Further, leader-leader structures naturally spawn additional leaders throughout the organisation. It’s a force that can’t be stopped. 

Implementing a leader-leader structure requires consistency of thought and action. 

It operates from a solid core of personal ownership, each individual taking responsibility and accountability for their actions and results, where everyone thinks, feels, and acts like it’s their business, regardless of their job title, office, or place on the hierarchy. 

A leader-leader model creates a high-performance culture based on inspirational and developmental feedback, coaching and continuous capability.

take action, achieve more
  • Are you building a leader-follower based on short-term results or a leader-leader culture for a high-performance, sustained, legacy business?
  • Have you got the right people in the right roles operating at the right level to deliver your business vision and goals?
  • Is your leadership culture part of your differentiator that sets you apart from the competition?
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