This has always been the case. Have you ever asked yourself why?
I really believe that anyone is capable of becoming a leader. I also believe that not everyone is cut out for the role. That doesn’t mean they’re less capable of making an important contribution; it just means they bring a different set of skills to the table. It also doesn’t mean that anyone aspiring to a leadership role can’t learn how to do so.
There’s nothing wrong with being a follower because regardless of the role, nothing happens without people, period. However, there’s a balance to everything. The trick is knowing which role someone is best qualified to fill.
If you’re a leader, you should be asking the following questions to determine where you need to improve. If you’re a follower and aspire to a leadership position, here are some questions you might ask of yourself to determine if this is a role you want to fill.
- Can I control my emotions? The best leaders have emotional intelligence; they may feel things deeply but they’re emotionally strong and stay in charge of their feelings. Followers are more reactive with their emotions, while leaders are more responsive.
- Am I comfortable with the middle of the road? Successful leaders have strong convictions and are bold in their beliefs, while followers are less committed to ideals. Followers get out of the storm while leaders stand strong against it. It took me a long time to embrace this one because of an unrealistic desire to have everyone hold hands and sing the coke song together. Doesn’t work that way.
- Do you have a high RC Factor (resistance to change)? Leaders may be headstrong and determined, but they also know when to be flexible and agile. Followers are more inclined to stay on a set course come what may. Personally, I like to be rigidly flexible, if that makes sense.
- Are you risk adverse? By nature, followers are more cautious than bold. They take a lot of notes and move more slowly. Leaders combine big ideas with action and move into situations where both the payoff and the risk are substantial.
- Are you self-confident? Leaders tend to be decisive and self-assured with their eyes on the prize. Followers are more likely to see limits in their abilities and put more faith in the judgment of others.
- Are you results-oriented? Leaders like to have a definitive plan and a blueprint for getting results. Followers like to have clear instructions that allow them to focus more on their individual corner of the big picture.
- Are you focused and detail-oriented? Successful leaders are all about discipline, focus and getting things done. Followers are more comfortable with starting things, stopping, and picking them up again later.
- Are you an effective and consistent communicator? Leaders are often good speakers and patient listeners who enjoy bringing people together and motivating them. Followers tend to be more introspective and less communicative.
- Do you think more in the short-term than the long-term? Leaders are almost always characterized by a clear vision for the future and sharing that vision with others. Followers either focus on the moment or sign on to a leader’s vision.
- Are you more about the nuts and bolts or about the mission and vision? An important quality of a leader is to motivate and inspire others. For followers, that kind of thinking doesn’t come naturally.
In my experience, both leaders and followers can be equally driven by their desire to make a difference. These are not clear distinctions because most all of us have elements of some or all of these characteristics. One or the other may even come to the forefront depending on the situation. I’ve seen the most unlikely individuals come out of nowhere to become the best of the best. I’ve also seen others have leadership thrust upon them and rise to the surface, as well.
In short, you don’t have to be in charge to be influential, but it sure does help, especially in times of crisis like right now!