An Informal Leader/Follower Dynamic

My office is quite small, with a team of chemists, a product development team and marketing team. There is a VP of Marketing and Product Development, VP of Research and Innovation, and a Chief Innovation Officer. Additionally, the CEO and new CFO will be moving into the office next week. Because the chemists spend their day in the lab, they are very separated from the rest of the office and they rarely interact with the Marketing/Product Development teams. The marketing and PD teams are very lean, with only one product developer and 3 marketers, each covering a different aspect of marketing. These teams all sit together, giving them the ability to collaborate and take advantage of each person’s unique creative talent.


Being such a new and small office, there aren’t many procedures the employees follow. Each person is given creative freedom and is able to work in the way they feel is best. Employees who have worked at larger corporations previously have mentioned how much more freedom they have in this smaller office.

I am a marketing intern and I report directly to the Business Coordinator. However, I help other marketing and PD employees when they need help. So far, I really like my supervisor. She has been so welcoming and helpful. She invites me to come into any meetings she thinks would be interesting and walks me through many of her daily processes/tasks. She has given me projects with little instruction, allowing me to figure it out on my own. I appreciate how informal her leadership style is. We have weekly touch bases where we go over what I had been working on that week and anything else worth covering. She doesn’t hesitate to offer me feedback which I find very helpful. I can see my supervisor acting as a mentor to me throughout my internship and possibly after. One thing that really touched me was when she told me to think of her and the other women in the office as big sisters, not managers. This small notion made me feel so comfortable and supported in the office.


The VPs and CIO seem to be a little bit more removed from the office. This is mainly because they travel a lot and have to deal with the greater organization more. I have noticed a lack of communication among the leaders and the rest of the office, which would definitely enhance the trust among the office.

One thought on “An Informal Leader/Follower Dynamic

  • July 11, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Seems like you’ve found an individual (your supervisor) who is interested in your growth and development, which is really nice. I hope she is able to serve as a mentor to you after the experience as well. I’ll be interested to learn, as your internship continues, what you find out about the role of the senior leadership in decision making (presumably after being there longer you may get more insight). With newer, smaller organizations, though there may not be much hierarchy in regards to day-to-day operations, senior leadership often has final approval over various things; several of your fellow classmates have reflected on this in regards to their internships this summer. Clearly the approach your supervisor takes – presuming she acts similarly with other colleagues – is useful in building trust, as opposed to the limited presence and interaction of senior level leadership, which you’ve noted is challenging in regards to trust building.

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