Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way?

I live in the portion of Virginia known as Northern Virginia .. about ten miles or so from our nation’s capital. There are many military families in our neighborhood and rarely a day goes by that I do not see the following bumper sticker on a U.S. Marine’s car ” Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way”.

Have you ever had this feeling come over you at work? The frustration of not being able to get a project moving forward because so many people have to have input.. or it has to be run by a committee of what seems like hundreds before you can even get started? I think most people would define that as government bureaucracy..but that is another topic for a completely different kind of blog.

How do we get a project to move forward if we are not the person with authority to do so? Is it okay to continue working on your own portion of the project so that you do not have to delay your other work? What do time management gurus or any kind of management experts have to say about this?

I see two issues at play when working with groups on a project. First, a struggle if there is more than one person that either wants to be the leader or if more than one leader is assigned.
Secondly, the need to prove one is right or has the only approach that will work.

For me, it is letting go of my need to be right (and then lauded by the masses when it’s proven we should have done things my way..lol) and also a fear of not getting a project completed perfectly. But completing it perfectly for whom? For me? For the client? How does the project team define perfect?

What a boring topic to review!! ..but when you are one of the team members just wanting to get this stuff off your to-do list…it can be extremely frustrating and inevitably lead to apathy. Apathy leads to some very shabby work product in my opinion and experience. No one really wants that.

So when it comes to Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way…. I’ll lead when directed to do so by my supervisor. I’ll try to follow when another person is leading the project and maybe their approach is not the same as mine..I can make suggestions, but I do not need to derail or drag the project down by trying to discuss my preferred approach. Lastly, I do, in fact, get out of the way.. when it becomes really obvious that there is a lot more going on (internal office politics) than completing the project and complete exactly my task.. no more, no less. It’s the only way to survive that situation.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from some of my readers.

Author: KMK Foley

Storyteller. Wicked sense of humor. Tenacious learner, Coffee Lover, especially Dunkin' Donuts.

One thought on “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way?”

  1. I just found your blog and I appreciate your time and efforts and ideas. Your acronym, PPN, is so appropriate for our profession. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts. Thanks for blogging!

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