Leader or Follower?

I would like to focus, in this blog, on two simple questions.

  1. Are you a leader?
  2. Are you a follower.


For the purposes of this article, let’s start by defining terms:

Leader: One who goes first, shows the way by going in advance.
Follower: One who comes, goes or moves after another, in the same course.

Leaders and followers take many forms, often masked by daily routines, circumstances and assumptions. The parent who models good behavior (or bad) is showing the way to the observing child; showing them the way to go. The executive who uses a navigation app is following someone who knows the way (yes, that digital voice got its information from a real person). The researcher who works alone may reach conclusions and make discoveries that go unnoticed until such a time as their information becomes relevant, profitable or even critical, at which point they may be recognized as a ‘leader in the field’. The worker who shows up day after day, on time, and reliably produces for their employee is recognized as a good follower…even though their example may be leading other employees to ‘go on the same course’.

Regardless of our positions and relationships in life we all wear both hats whether we think of ourselves as leaders and followers or not.
My point is that we are each, daily, assuming the roles of both leader and follower by the very nature of our daily routines. Being aware of this should cause us to ask, on a regular basis, ‘whom am I leading; whom am I following?’ The answers to both questions can be exciting and sobering if we have been unaware of the role we are playing as leaders in the lives of those around us and of the impact our environment is having on our mental, emotional and even physical health because of whom we choose to follow.

It would be helpful to note here that we can play the role of leader and follower by choice but will play it by default if we don’t assume responsibility. Someone is always telling you what to do, how to think and act, what will make you successful. Choose who you are listening to, following, conscientiously and wisely. We will lead those around us, sometime silently, by our actions and inactions. We have the choice to be a good leader or example in every action and interaction.

Have fun thinking about your situation at work, at home, in social settings, private time…and recognize when you are leading and when you are following. Whom are you following and why? Whom are you leading? Assume responsibility for both roles and make informed, conscientious choices. Let your light shine!