In the Midst of a Great Relationship
Organizations filled with people who need to be #1 are paralyzed by sideways energy. Everyone pulls for their own way rather than pulling together.
We are so in love with being #1 that we minimize being #2. But,
great organizations are filled with great followers.
Becoming number two:
“Losing an election was perhaps the most important event in my life. Wrestling with the defeat of that was a remarkably positive experience.” Rich McKewon, co-author of, Finding Allies, Building Alliances.
Shortly after his loss, Rich was appointed by the Governor of Utah to the Tax Commission. Within several years, Governor Mike Leavitt asked Rich to be his chief of staff.
Rich has been Mike Leavitt’s #2 in the public and private sectors since 1995. Rich said,
“I found myself in the midst of one of
the great relationships that I’ve ever had.”
How to be a great number two:
I asked Rich how someone could become a great #2? He said,
“Hook up with a great #1… The right #1
can lead you to remarkable experiences”
Great number ones:
- Invite others to test their ideas.
- Say, “We” not “I.”
- Live open handedly.
- Aren’t threatened by talented people.
- Freely praise outstanding performance.
- Expand their views with outside input.
- Delegate extensively.
- Live by noble principles.
- Know where they’re going.
- Build great teams.
Mike said, “I never felt like I was subservient. I felt like I was part of a team.”
Great number twos:
- Understand what the #1 wants and expects.
- Organize a group of people around those expectations.
- Implement. “Run stuff.”
- Create a support system that allows the #1 to function at maximum utility.
- Magnify strengths.
- Speak the truth to power. “If I had to reduce the responsibilities of a good follower to a single rule, it would be to speak truth to power.” Warren Bennis
(Both lists are adapted and expanded from my conversation with Rich McKewon.)
Conversation on Facebook: “Great followers ______.”
Recommended reading: “Finding Allies, Building Alliances.”
What hinders people from become great followers?
How can great followers be developed?
Our love to be number one makes all difference to our personality. It shows who we are from inside. It clearly expose our masked character. It is challenging to become either number one or two. And both positions are important. When number one has bigger responsibility, number two has even more. The reason is simple- in case of things go wrong, number two has to be accountable since he is suppose to take care. Number one relied on number two, so number become more accountable especially when things go awry.
It is even more challenging when number one has to take number two position. It is hard to digest and accept but there are circumstances at workplace. So, right person takes the courage the accept the responsibility but many people either quit or avoid taking such responsibility. And that is the point, they start playing tricks and engage into different kind of behavior that can protect their position.
And this expectation hinder people from becoming great followers.
And I believe, great followers can be developed by strengthening their will power and humility and reducing their expectation.
Good followers and leaders create their own definition of success. The definition makes them class.
YOu got me thinking about the relationship between growing responsibility and our roles. When we are a number 2 we should want the responsibilities of our number 1 to grow. As they go up we also have an opportunity to go up. But, only if we have proven ourselves to be competent followers.
Greatest obstacle I have ever found for me is my attempt at following my will instead of Gods. Really that is THE only obstacle, it just shows itself in different circumstances.
Great followers can be develop when I have my own house in order. When that is cool, cool things tend to happen and that attracts people who would like similar cool stuff to seeming to happen for them to!!!
Attract, don’t promote! Promoting is for losers.
SP back to now!
Attract don’t promote… powerful.
And OMGosh regret the two typos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Meant, developed and seemingly! Opps!
If I got anything worth having others who want that see it. I do not have to say anything.
If I think I have what others need or want my gums just start a flapping! Dumb gums!
Have a great one Dan, hope you enjoyed The Rabbi’s Gift!
We are evolving into a society where there is so much emphasis on charismatic leadership, that we forget that someone actually needs to handle implementation. While it is not easy to to talk a great game, it is even harder to play a great game.
YOu are nailing something that Rich enjoyed about his role. He loves getting stuff done. He’s an implementer. He ran things.
Some may not realize that it’s the #2 who put the rubber on the road.
Another way to look at it is that we are all number 2 to someone or one(s). You can be number 1 in your field and still report to someone, or you can be number 1 in the company and report to a board. Additionally, in private life as a parent I find myself switching roles with my spouse from 2 to 1 and vice versa, more times I’m # 2 and that’s a reallly good thing!!! At the end of the day it’s more of what we do for and with each other that’s important, at least in my humble opinion.
Thanks for a thoughtful post.
All leaders follow and all followers lead. I love where you took me with your comment.
Dan, I was the number 2 to a very good number 1 for many years and point 7 jumped out at me because I was one of the very few in the organization that could/would speak the truth to number 1. That working relationship (the way it fulfilled me, made me feel) is something I still miss today.
A great post as usual Dan!
Wow! Great blog post! Keep them coming!