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Leaders step up. It is part of the definition of being a leader. Yet, a closely observed leader with experience and skill in the role will also be seen to follow at times. Good leaders do, at times, follow, and they are skilled followers as well. A leader, while leading, shares personal excitement and vision, offering motivation and passion for their followers to reflect. At times, the leader steps back, permitting another person the chance to lead. This is generally for either expertise or training.

Stepping Up
Stepping up occurs when no one else in the group or company is willing to do the things that need to be done. Often, this happens for things seemingly impossible, extremely difficult, or politically charged. It takes courage to be sufficiently vulnerable and accomplish the things that need doing regardless of personal sacrifice involved or any political fallout. Stepping up is a vital ability.

Stepping Back
Stepping back, or taking a follower role, provides the space for someone else who is willing and able to lead rather than forbidding opportunities to grow and shine. Encourage others to step up and leave them room to do the work of leadership. Support efforts without overshadowing. Help the leader to grow in a personal and professional manner. Giving others the space to lead includes giving them the knowledge that mistakes and even failure are not the end of the world. This helps confidence grow and builds skills that are important both for business and for life.

Part of the role of a leader is the development of team members. Leaders help team members gain those new skills necessary for them to increase their ability, gradually reaching the goal of the leader. One critical skill taught by the leader is leadership, itself. Another is followership. When following, leaders demonstrate how best to be a follower by living it.

Leaders also step back and let others lead when another person has great expertise in the matter at hand. This is merely good use of the available instruments in achieving a goal. Knowing the team’s strengths and lackings is an integral part of leadership. Relying on the expertise of team members is a good use of this knowledge.