Does Leading Mean Not Following?

 I used to work in an office environment. This is the reason I cannot watch “The Office” television program. Flashbacks and PTSD. Anyway, I was the trainer for our administrative staff and occasionally, the sales staff on new forms, procedures, some technology etc. I can’t tell you how many times I would try to train a salesman on a new procedure and have him tell me it was stupid and that he was going to keep doing it his way anyway. At that point I had two options: 1. Agree with his attitude to avoid the conflict, then complain to the rest of the staff about the new procedure as well or  2. Stay positive,  do my best to give the instruction, forward his feedback to my trainers. I chose #2.

Now in the above situation, I was the leader of the training but I had a leader over me who communicated the new procedure to me, why it was important, and how it would benefit both the sales staff and the company. My temptation was to avoid having to “fight” through the teaching so the salesman would still like me. My duty was to find the best way to communicate the benefits, encourage him to jump into unfamiliar territory, and be available for clarification. By choosing to follow my leader’s instructions, I could work through his fears and bring stability to the situation–which, by the way, is a better environment for learning. If I chose the, “yeah I know, but I’m supposed to teach you this stuff” route, I would have perpetuated division ending with our branch using two different systems. So, if I needed to train a new employee, I would have to teach them the current system and old system so they could function in either camp. Not good. I believe that’s called co-dependency–trying to keep everybody happy with you.

All this to say, if you are leading others in a vision passed along to you, follow your leader. Show respect.  Do not undermine. If there are areas that truly aren’t working, don’t wallow and complain within your group or worse, to your customer! Take it back to your leader to evaluate and keep everyone working from the same page.

Hmm, sounds familiar. Have you ever had these things happen to you as a church volunteer? Certainly not in a church.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Great post Joni! One of the many reasons I appreciate you :)!


  2. Posted by Joni Ruhs on July 7, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    I forgot to write that this scenario is also prevalent in marriages between spouses and the outside world or between spouses and children. Disunity is confusing and frightening to a child. It puts pressure on the kid to decide which rules(or parent) are to be followed and which are negotiable.


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