Since the beginning of time, individuals have been in relationships. From good to bad, and everything in between, relationships have lifted people up as well as held them down. Relationships are a tricky thing. We want them badly. We discard them quickly. We pursue them with all our heart. We run away from them with all our slyness.
In business and life, there are people we associate with. Some we have to; some we want to. Some we need to avoid. Who do we follow? Who do we unfollow?
The individuals leading the way need to be on a path of integrity, taking us to places that challenge us, enlighten us, and help lift others up all along the way.
It is about a path. We need to follow people who have a vision of where the path can go when we all work together. We need to follow people filled with purpose. It is a forward looking excitement unbound with inclusiveness and significance.
The path also has a past, filled with actions to assess and words to evaluate. Does the past show a consistency of words and action and, most importantly, of trust? The rearview mirror look of the people we follow doesn’t need to be perfect but it does need to be one filled with integrity of work, word, and ways.
We need to follow people who:
- Respect us
- Listen to us
- Make us better
- Learn continuously
- Change to improve and enhance
Unfollowing others is challenging. There is a past web of interaction and other friends tangled in. When we remove ourselves from the web, some damage will be done, but how much greater is the damage if we stay tangled in?
We need to unfollow the individuals who are controlling, leading us to only do what they want done, and travel in the questionable areas of life. If we feel stuck in doing things against our values and goals or feel taken advantage of in what we do and say, then it is time to unfollow. If we feel threatened or feel others are being threatened, then we need to unfollow. If we are doing things we feel queasy about or raise more questions than answers, then we need to unfollow.
At times, it may take more than a simple unfollowing to get out of bad relationships. It may involve letting others know of the issues and troubles. It may include restarting in new places and new friends. It may require us to step up our character and drive a change to take place.
We cannot be bystanders in our communities. Life demands us to be an engaged character and build up other characters involved in the stories unfolding as we live fully alive.
As challenging as it may be at times, we need to unfollow those getting our life story off track or, worse, harming our unfolding plot, taking us off theme and off direction. Even more importantly, at times, we need to step up and stop others from doing harm and making inappropriate, damaging choices. It is the call for us to lead, at any age.
A Quick Follow/ Unfollow Test
Is there a follow/unfollow test? I believe we know when, if we are mindful and self-aware. However, we may need a further push to recognition, and these simple questions may help:
- Are you following people who make you a better person?
- Are you following people who allow you to make them better a better person?
- Do the people you follow exhibit the best integrity in what they do?
- Do the people you follow make you think better thoughts, do better things?
- Do the people you follow serve other people?
If any of the answers are “no,” then you need to unfollow.
Being a Leader: Making Relationships Work
There may be a more important question to answer first – Do you have a relationship with yourself? If not, you need to start here. You need to connect to who you are and capable of being. You need to define your values, understand your character, and embrace your purpose. Doing these things will set the right course in connecting with the friends, colleagues, and communities to live a full and meaningful life and leadership story.
Follow/unfollow is an important element to living an unlife life. It is calling us to unfollow the people holding us back and follow those who lift us up. As leaders, we need to demonstrate the characteristics of who we want to follow. There is a consistency of character required.
We need strong relationships to be a strong leader. We need strong relationships to support us when our life story falters. We need strong relationships to guide us as our life story unfolds. We need to follow the right people to lead in the right way. We need to lead in the right way to encourage and challenge the people following us.
This is what makes relationships work.
What factors would you add in who you follow or unfollow?