leadership – followerness

On Google+ I jumped into a conversation about Leadership and while posting an answer, I moved my finger on my mouse and the whole post was erased.  I figured, better write it here – so my crazy finger doesn’t get the best of me again 😉

Here’s the post:

What I really wanted to say was this:

Whereas we may think that what sets leaders apart from followers is intentionality or drive or higher purpose or selflessness or whatever attribute that makes “us” better than “them”… I would say that leaders are made by followers. It doesn’t matter how intentional or charismatic or whatever you are… if people don’t follow you, you aren’t leading anyone. (and I would propose you are then, not a leader)

Reasons people follow other people (who we THEN call leaders):

  • inspiration
  • laziness
  • lack of personal vision
  • alignment with personal vision
  • because others do
  • poor taste
  • need to be told what to do
  • faith in the one being followed
  • buy-in
  • love
  • fear

You get the idea.  Too many reasons – good and bad – to list.

But GOOD leadership has to be defined by the standard of  what we determine to be ‘good’. Is a good leader someone who has lots of followers? Or someone who’s cause is important? Or….

These things really mess with my head.  So I have determined NOT to strive to be a good leader. But instead to be a good follower.  A good …person.

A good person:

  • is kind
  • doesn’t lie
  • loves well
  • loves quickly
  • cares for others
  • respects what is theirs
  • respects what belongs to others
  • (and for me) honors God

There are, of course, LOTS more things on that list, but that is the basic setup.

If there are people around me that want to hang with me while I am trying to live my life well, they are welcome to do so.  I then determine to be a good friend (as determined by the above “good person” list)

But the idea that a leader is more selfless than a follower, or more dedicated to a cause or more invested – I don’t buy that.  I know team players (followers) that are more invested than their leaders, but for whatever (any number of) reasons they are not designated as the ‘leader’. That large followership base or charismatic personality or intentionality makes a good leader is also not, in my opinion, a good standard (Hitler, Mussolini…).  Time on the “big circuit” is probably also not a good standard (Jesus, Ghandi…)

As with most conversations I enter – the answer is way simpler and way more complex than I ever think at the start of the conversation.


Simple: Be good. Don’t worry about the rest

Complex: There is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to why some people are followed while others are not, or why some have large amounts of followers and others small amounts… well, I don’t REALLY know. This post was my stab at sharing what I think I know.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s