Over a Cliff: Good Leadership equals a strong following

One of my mentees showed me a clip from an old episode of Scandal she watched where the character Abby was irate at the main character Olivia for not being true self and leading their company down the wrong path. Yet, Abby did express her loyalty by saying she would follow Olivia over a cliff.   One could say that it means I will follow you to the bitter end or that any leap of faith you take I am there to fly with you. That got me thinking about creating a strong enough team who will support you and be leaders within their own right to take you to the next level and fly. If your team does not express that they will chase you over a cliff and expect to fly, then you’ve been a boss to them and not a leader.

Learn your followers

When you hire someone it is based off of their skill set and their likability…if you just plan on being their boss. A boss operates like a jockey on a race horse, they drive their employees around the track and they get all the credit. A leader invest in their employees qualities and cultivates their skills and mentality to become experts or leaders within their own right. Not every employee is in a position to lead an entire team. However  every employee can be exceptional at what they do and bring their expertise to the table. By encouraging their growth as employees you become a leader that they can trust. They want to follow you, because you have taken the time to invest in their skills, learn who they are as individuals, and marry the possible life path with the company’s needs. Even if they leave the company there will always be a bond to return or assist like I talked about with former mentees. Don’t do your company the disservice of being a boss of working horses, create leaders and experts that will calmly walk to the edge of a cliff and jump with you to fly.


‘If you want to go quicklygo aloneIf you want to go fargo together.’-Unknown

Over a cliff and climb a mountain

Everyone loves a good comeback story. When companies like Apple, IBM, Starbucks, and Marvel were on the precipice of bankruptcy and the CEO’s had to make hard decisions of whether to fight their way from the edge or fall off, the employees were the ones who were their string of hope. The employees were likely fighting for their own positions and income, however that was one leg of the drive to get the respective companies back on their feet. When the CEOs came in and decided this is how we are going to survive they had to rely on their own confidence and the confidence of their sub-leaders (employees) to gain that second leg to get back up the mountain and become one of the top companies in the world of their respective industries. Companies are built by the idea(s) of one or few and nurtured to develop beyond the vision by those who know how to carry the weight.

The Lean-In on Leadership for your staff 

Creating a group of sub-leaders can easily be done by simply regarding them. To regard your employee can guarantee their loyalty to your vision and purpose regardless of the direction that you may be headed. Here are some suggestions that I have lived and observed.

  • Identify weaknesses and use it as a space to improve.
  • Consider all ideas as great ideas and dive deep into them until it shows that it is/is not good for the company.
  • Create a “winner circle” for small and achievements within or outside of the company. You never know how the new skill or development will help you move forward.
  • Encourage the sub-leader to keep moving forward whether that is by example or instruction.
  • If the sub-leader is on the edge of their own cliff, let them know that you will help them fly if they jump.

Being a leader is overrated. Be an inspiration.

“When you’re told to be a leader there are very few people that give you a blueprint on how to do it.”- Stacey Abrams

This statement struck me about how the concept of leadership had become so skewed by an ego driven approach and not a nurturing approach that creates more leaders and/or exceptional people within your company or community.

What is leadership? Is it a person who commands or a person who inspires action and creates a momentum towards a successful direction? I believe it is the latter because the “top dog” authoritative style leader is not only toxic, but ineffective. In business school they go over different styles of leadership: Transformational, Democratic, Autocratic, Bureaucratic, Servant, Transactional and Laissez-Faire.  But is there really a correct way to lead this generation of Millennials in the workforce? In my opinion, yes, Inspirational Leadership.

Inspirational Leadership energizes and creates a sense of direction or purpose for employees. An effective leader in this style would pull aspects of the other leadership styles because there is a time for each of these to meet the end goal of a project or purpose. By using this style, it encourages workers to lean in and grasp the company’s vision and conquer fears that would otherwise hinder the employee personally and ultimately professionally.

Millennials are the driving force of success for this country and to negate their ideals of how “comfortable” someone should be at work is antiquated and inefficient. Just as many seasoned CEOs or managers they entered the workforce with both gumption and fear, and to save their mental health from antiquated leadership styles they job hop. This is due to the lack of responsibility taken in leadership to create an environment for healthy consistent growth that dwindles fears and raises personal expectation to be the best.

Make fear your new friend.

When I decided to start my own business, I was terrified because I knew that the road ahead of me was not paved with open arms. I had to face my fears and lead myself before I could lead anyone else. I had to lead myself away from anticipating the worst, from fearing being the only woman of color in the room, from feeling like I would be a neglectful wife and mother, and many other fears that would hinder my success. By using inspirational leadership to build up myself, why wouldn’t I use the same style to build my company and create a space for employees to come in and conquer their own inhibitions. How could a manager direct or encourage an employee to complete a task when they themselves have yet to conquer something similar.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson

Richard is talking about the trickle up effect of investing in the people around you so that they can evolve and the company will always operate at their absolute best. If you can lead by inspiring people to be the best that they can be they can create their own blueprint for success that would likely benefit you or be an excellent ally for further growth. This is true in a company or community. When we as leaders, or inspirers, lean in to the people who are under our guidance we create streams of opportunities for success that benefit everyone. Let’s thrive together.