Am I a leader, a follower, or a collaborator?

Do you feel most comfortable being a leader, a follower, or a collaborator?

I had blogged before about how I generally prefer to lead than to follow. I suspect it’s got a lot to do with my extroversion, my bossiness (still working on that), my struggle with authority figures (also still working on that), and my lack of patience – I’d rather take the lead and get the job done, than wait on someone else’s timing.

Other culprits include my occasional creative streak (first one to get the idea usually gets the job of project manager), a willingness to help out if I feel I’m capable enough, and just familiarity with the role. Leadership begets leadership, I find.

That was my knee-jerk response when I got the prompt for today’s NaBloPoMo topic. But then I started digging around and realised that, as with everything else in life, it’s a little bit more complicated and context-driven.

For instance, I’m a leader to my daughter, in that I want to be her role-model and I teach her through example, guidance, or specific instruction. But in the field of parenting, I am at present very much a follower – with a few creative tangents now and then. I read avidly. I observe other families. I make mental notes on how to adapt what I’ve seen to our unique little family. If you were to look at my family unit, my husband and I try to work as collaborators in parenting our daughter, and I have to make a conscious effort to look towards his leadership in this collaboration of building a home with common goals.

It’s a little bit of everything.

And then there’s other scenarios, such as

The fact is we probably are all three in any given position – and are fully comfortable morphing from one to the other. The question, perhaps, isn’t so much what we’re most comfortable being in every situation. Rather, it’s more about what makes us feel uncomfortable.

I can think of a few scenarios to answer the latter

  • Being a leader when completely out of your depth
  • Being a follower when the leader is completely out of his or her depth
  • Collaborating when you’re unclear about or uncomfortable with the common goals
  • Collaborating when the official or unofficial leadership is suss
  • Being a leader, a follower, or a collaborator when forced against your will.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you agree that we’re probably all three at any given time?

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