Many people believe that they are paving the way, instead they may be following. Workplace leaders risk more by being first and creating the future. Are you following or are you leading?
It is simple. Being the front runner requires risk that the others don’t have to endure.
Leading or Following?
I can tell you about yesterday’s weather. It is easy to get it correct. Predicting tomorrow’s weather is a little bit trickier.
You can observe a brand’s social media exposure, like, and follow. If they appear to be gaining momentum you can launch a similar campaign. If not, you can observe another. Only opportunity cost from inaction is really at risk. You’re not leading, but following.
The idea to put a camera in a phone, a credit card reader at the parking meter, or create a single cup coffee maker may have been created by people who were leading. The cost to follow after observing the success is much less expensive.
Very few businesses are truly front runners. Very few artists, authors, or architects are launching ideas that are truly original. In many regards, they are following or perhaps expanding upon ideas that they have learned.
Workplace Leaders Risk
Knowing yesterday’s weather report may be a reliable source of information. Describing the exact weather for a May wedding, several months in advance seems foolish, or at least extremely risky.
In the workplace, employees can report on all the historical data. They can produce charts, graphs, and apply a clever marketing spin for a compelling message. A competitive analysis of results may be helpful, but it doesn’t really make them a leader.
Workplace leaders take a risk of knowing when to follow, or when to expand on past ideas or results. They’ll take the most risk when they choose to do it first.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.