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How Being A Subordinate Makes You A Better Leader

Being in charge is a good feeling; whether at work, home, or school, having control and being responsible for something beyond yourself is empowering. However, it is also intimidating. Without knowing where to start, you could make serious mistakes as a leader. Too many gaffes in the workplace and you could find yourself demoted, or out of a job.

So how do we learn about leadership? Working under a mentor and studying key leadership figures in history can be helpful, but it doesn’t fully establish perspective. You need to experience a work environment through the eyes of a subordinate before you can effectively lead. Here are several ways that working as an entry level associate helps you  become an effective leader:

Teaching Others as A Leader

As a leader, subordinates will look to you for direction. This is especially true of new hires and transfers who are still getting the lay of the land in the workplace. Your experience as a ground level employee creates a rapport and allows you to teach others effectively. Furthermore, this experience, along with a degree and certifications, could create opportunities within the company for official positions in training and development.

Interacting With Leadership

While some companies are lenient with communication between different levels, etiquette can be tricky in the chain of command. Respect is necessary for a company environment no matter who you speak to. However, individual interactions necessitate a different approach. You wouldn’t speak to a fellow associate the same way you would speak to the company CEO, for example. Working entry level lets you refine workplace etiquette, and can help with understanding what angles to take when you have a proposal or complaint.

Chron has excellent tips on communicating across different levels in a business setting.

Networking & Productivity

Networking is an all-important part of finding opportunities in your career. Building relationships in the work environment can open up doors for promotion and create job openings. Being able to appreciate the subordinate’s perspective can contribute to creating a bond between a superior and their staff. Networking with multiple levels of the company, not just with leadership, can help you expand your network and hear about opportunities you may not have otherwise.

Bonds between leadership and subordinates will also inspire greater productivity. The Harvard Business Review compiled a variety of studies that suggested the importance of workplace relationships in improving productivity and employee engagement. While a hierarchy is vital, it is mutually important to foster communication and respect between associates of all levels. A comfortable work environment and quality interaction between staff members will create a culture of success in any department, and it could all start with the superior’s ability to empathize with subordinate positions through their experience.

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