As humans we follow. The concept of leadership is only valuable if there are followers. It is just another version of followership. CEOs, US Presidents, Ministers, Generals, all follow somebody, all take their orders from someone, all succeed another leader. We follow–We all move in accord with a model. Another way of saying mentoring, isn't it? We are all mentored and we follow that example. So great leadership is great followership? Great leaders are great mentees too. You follow? 🙂
I think we can easily get caught up in our own press releases and start to think that we, alone, invented our leadership abilities. That we were born with innate skills to lead. We know that batch of kool-aid is spiked with self-deceit and blind egotism.
Most of us do not want to be at the bleeding edge of trends or ideas–too much risk and controversy. By the same token there is nothing worse than being at the end of a trend or a cause, that makes you out of step, out of touch and un-hip. So we follow our instincts and check our risk dashboards before following.
You know the questions we ask ourselves—Will I raise my hand and ask the "stupid question"? Will I speak out when something offensive has been said? When will I evangelize about my ideas and beliefs? At what time do I express a contrarian view? These are the day to day forms of followership/leadership that emerge. Sometimes we act and sometimes we regret acting or not acting.
It is rare and I would assert non-existent, to start something entirely new, that was not inspired or motivated by something/someone else.
I love this video
Let me reiterate the lessons here:
- Leadership is defined by the followers
- The leader needs to nurture the initial followers
- The first follower transforms a lone "nut" into a leader
Don't get caught up in just becoming a leader. Start leading by following. Look for ideas, mentors, role models, profiles, case studies, stories, that resonate with you and where you are going and who you are becoming. Talk to your network about these ideas, follow their leads. Invariably, what you want and seek is being done or being pursued. Who is doing it well? Who is considered the best? Who do you know that has these answers?
It all starts with what you want and what you value. Following is not a sign of weakness. It is a necessity. Follow something and/or someone to bring the best out of you.
By the way, maybe more than any other person you have been following, is your mom. 🙂 Hope you acknowledged how much you appreciate being her follower this weekend and everyday.
Thanks for following along and reading. John