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Leadership: The Power of the Follower

Is leadership for you? Are you cut out to be a leader? Maybe, maybe not.
That certainly is not your typical way of looking at leadership. Most everyone tells you of all the great qualities that a leader must demonstrate to be a good one. They allude that you must match those qualities to be a great leader. They talk about character, behavior and traits; their ability to influence, enlist the support of others. Books are written about what a leader must and must not do to be great.
Leadership, true leadership is a rarity. You and I can probably name the top ten leaders of all times without straining ourselves. We can list the qualities and abilities they shared and come up with a pretty good definition of what a leader looks, feels and smells like.
When you think of a successful leader what comes to mind? It’s part personality, part their charisma and appeal. They are able to address a large crowd with a fine oration and get their point across. There is passion in their soul and we can sense it. A leader’s ideas, and sometimes their ideals, become our ideas and ideals. A leader can draw us in, inspire us and have us want to fulfill on their vision. And, we, the followers, grant a leader the authority to lead.
Now, let’s be honest. Take a look in the mirror. Are you built of the stuff that it takes to have others follow you? Can you be persuasive and certain enough of yourself, your cause, to be a leader? Do you have what’s needed to enroll others to grant you the authority to lead? You’ll have to answer that one for yourself.
Billions upon billions of us are not leaders. They don’t possess the qualities nor the drive necessary for leadership. They, and I will include myself in this multitude, are the followers. Leadership is just not for everyone. There is no sin in not being a leader because without followers there could be no leaders, no leadership. Followers are a necessity.
Additionally, there is a moral component woven into leadership. Those ideas and ideals we spoke of can be used for good or they can be used for bad. Good and bad, of course, is a wee bit subjective. Consider whether Hitler was a great leader? Did he not inspire an entire nation to carry out unspeakable acts of brutality? Yes. Was he not a great leader? From a purely academic point of view, he was. Without a doubt, there were followers though who gave their permission to be led.

If it makes sense that followers are a necessity, then is this not where followers have some control, have a say in leadership? If we all used our individual judgment to decide who to follow, whose ideas and ideals to embrace, then followship becomes as important as leadership. The follower must choose to whom he or she grants the authority of leadership and therein resides the power of the follower.
You and I get to choose whom we follow and you and I become a leader by granting leadership. You and I are then a powerful leader, albeit, a leader of one. You can therefore become a leader by leading yourself by chosing whom to follow.
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“Let no one say that he is a follower of Gandhi. It is enough that I should be my own follower. I know what an inadequate follower I am of myself, for I cannot live up to the convictions I stand for. You are no followers but fellow students, fellow pilgrims, fellow seekers, fellow workers.”
~Mohandas Gandhi
“Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness? While it lasts, the religion of worshiping oneself is best”
~C.S. Lewis
“If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever.”
~G.K. Chesterton to Alexander Woollcot Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Share on Linkedin share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post Tell a friend Tags: behavior, character, follower, honest, leader, leadership, power, qualities, traits

Rick Lelchuk

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