The 2 Criteria for Following a Leader

Most of us have had supervisors we loved, and ones we secretly hoped would get a promotion… to somewhere else. How do you know when you’ve got a good boss? Is it when you agree with every decision they make? Good luck. Is it when they only say positive things to you? You won’t grow. I submit to you that at the core, you need two criteria for a good leader:
  1. Someone who can be trusted and has integrity
  2. Someone who is competent in their role
Obviously, good leaders have a whole lot more than these, but I’d argue these two are the lowest common denominators. Sorry for the math reference, that rarely happens. What to do if your boss has both:

Follow them! Even if it doesn’t always make sense to you. Since you know they are competent you need to remind yourself that they may know something or see something you don’t. That factors into the decisions they make. And more than anything, you know they are worth trusting even if they make a mistake.

What to do if your boss doesn’t have both:

Follow them, at least for now. Being a good leader requires also being a good follower. But you must also resist the urge to hide behind their inadequacies. The argument of “I can’t succeed because my boss isn’t a good leader” shows you aren’t a very great leader either. If you want to be a good leader, but you find yourself under a not-so-great leader, you must take the initiative to improve the situation. This is a great opportunity to practice 51 percent. Tell them directly the concerns you have with their leadership of you (this takes a significant amount of courage). If that doesn’t work, find another appropriate person in the organization to speak into the situation as well (usually their boss). In this case you must lead up, not bleed out. If all else fails, go somewhere where you can work for a leader that has both.

Keep in mind that people tend to quit managers, they rarely quit organizations. The irony is that organizations have a perpetually changing set of managers. In the end, our ability to follow a leader depends on trust and competency. (click here to tweet this) Find a leader that has both and become a leader that has both.

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.