Do leaders have to be followers?

Executives and senior managers have to be strong leaders who can provide direction that resonates with their employees. It's their responsibility to inspire their employees and provide them the guidance necessary to contribute to the team and grow professionally. But to be truly effective leaders, do they have to be followers?

An article in Business News Daily suggests that strong leaders will take time to work with their employees, find out what they want out of their professional experience and accommodate them. While they are officially in charge, they have to reverse that mindset when dealing with their workers. Ultimately, their ability to listen to their employees and provide the resources and structure they need to be successful will positively impact the team as a whole.

Matt Tenney, a social entrepreneur and author of the new book "Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom" spoke with the publication about this issue.

"I'm not suggesting that we coddle the people on our teams or cater to their every whim," Tenney told the news source. "Clearly, we need to set clear expectations for excellence and let people know that they will be held accountable to those expectations."

Strong leadership is about developing respectful, meaningful relationships with each employee. Identifying their skills, strengths, weaknesses, values and motivations can help cultivate their creativity and fuel innovation in the team. Leaders who take the position of rule may wind up hindering their teams' efforts.

Tenney says leaders have to rely on their employees for their creativity and innovation the same way they are relied on to provide leadership. An environment where leaders respect their employees and their thought process can assist with innovation and help develop new ideas. Ultimately, the customer benefits from this strategy.

"When we model empathy, compassion and helpfulness, we create a culture that is likely to deliver world-class service to our customers," Tenney said. "This is why companies like and Southwest Airlines — known for delivering the best customer service — work so hard to develop servant leaders who treat employees with such high levels of care."

Executives and senior leaders who possess this skill can be found with the help of a search firm that recognizes intangibles in professional candidates. Identifying these types of individuals and bringing them into the company will pay significant dividends in the long run.