A Leader is Someone Who Has Followers...



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Leadership > Best Practices > A Leader is Someone Who Has Followers...

A Leader is Someone Who Has Followers...
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
A key issue that is sometimes overlooked is that a leader is a leader when, and only when (s)he has followers. These followers will follow the leader if:
1. The followers think that the leader wants there well-being (compare servant leadership);
2. The followers think that the leader is capable;
3. The leader communicates a strategic vision as something that it is worth to pursue (as in: "We are building a new country" or "You can be too first new world citizen" rather then "We need to increase productivity by 17% or the quality of your products by 20% to reach an international cost and quality level".

Leader Always Born with Some Inborn Skills
sahar sultan, Student (University), Pakistan, Member
I think a person who has capability and nature to create his or her followers by himself is a leader. A leader may have the ability to influence the thoughts and to modify the behaviors as he wants and is required on the spot.

Leadership is a Two-way Process
Toyin Babs-Enoch, Entrepreneur, Nigeria, Member
Without followers there will be no leader. Without having someone referred to as a leader, there will be no followers.
Also leadership is based on influence and common goals and objectives. Apart from leadership by position, if any member of a group is able to come up with the best ideas and solution to their shared challenges, and has the charisma and enough knowledge and competency to carry the others along, he automatically becomes a leader.
In other words, leadership is a two-way transaction between the leader and the followers with both parties having mutual respect for each other.

The Origin of Leadership
Njau Mungai, Student (MBA), Kenya, Member
It is the followers who transform a lone dancer into a leader...

Bill Boynton, Teacher, United States, Member
I believe leadership is in direct alignment with followership, and is identified primarily by personal character coupled with competence and the ability to influence.
We need to have organizations and/or institutions full of leaders of responsibility.
Leadership has a common denominator of influence within themselves first, then moves out to others.

Is it a Leader or a Follower
Bill Boynton, Teacher, United States, Member
I believe "leadership" is a lot like the word "beauty': I know what it is, but I can't describe it.
The true bottom line of leadership can't always be recognized because it is made up of the soft issues of management style.
True character, caring, empathy, trustworthiness, continuous learning aligned with abilities for change.
This style of leadership comes to the front by example, and is driven by personal competence, bringing with it lots of respect.
It can't always be seen or heard, its just there. OK, just a thought.

Leadership = Motivaction to a Worthy Mission
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
True leaders give motivaction (motives for action) to pursue a worthy mission, the acid test it is that his team members work for something more than money.

Lead Yourself and Others Follow You
Vijaya Saradhi Mekala, India, Member
Be it a business leader, a corporate CEO, the head of a department, a community leader, a government official or a housewife - every person is a leader in his or her own way.
The point is, if you can lead yourself, no matter what the issue is, you will have followers...
But most important is to know how to lead yourself! By the time you know the answer to this question, you are automatically a leader with followers of your own...

Followers need to Buy in to your Ideas
Abdul-gakeem Satira, Manager, South Africa, Member
In my humble opinion, a leader is not about someone who has followers. Any senior position would automatically assume followers, whether they choose to follow or not. However a leader is about someone taking others with him/her. Whilst setting the direction and growing the organisation, he/she will also grow people in order to ensure sustained growth. A leader is someone who invests in people and in return gain their loyalty. The fundamentals of a leader is about delivering results through others. The followers need to buy in to your ideas, which is your leadership and then only can your followers truly be deemed as your followers.

No Self-appointed Leaders
Richard S. Dillard
Leader is a title that can only be given to us by those who choose to follow our lead. And, I agree, they will only be inclined to follow if they believe the leader is truly interested in their well being, is truly capable of leading, and is truly moving toward something that is worthwhile.
We learn a lot from the etymology of the term. In fact, the etymology of leadership suggests the term finds its roots in the idea of movement or advancement by appointment. The use of the word “appointment” here implies, by definition, these three criteria are met and that others do the appointing (i.e. choose to follow).

Is it a Leader or a Follower
Conny Morokweng, Student (MBA), Botswana, Member
@Bill Boynton: I do agree with you Bill. Leaders provide guidance on the organisation's mission and influence, motivates employees while managers only implement tasks leading to the accomplishment of the mission.

Organiational Leadership: Lead Yourself and Others Follow You
Bill Boynton, Teacher, United States, Member
@Vijaya Saradhi Mekala: Great reponse, and so true. It is what I like to refer to as the inside-out approach for change. Thank you.

A leader must Inspire Followers > Believers
Aziz Rattansey, Kenya, Member
Whilst it is useful for a leader to have followers, it is also important that leader must have BELIEVERS who truly buy into the leader's vision unconditionally. This is a make-or-break scenario for effective leadership. Believers are even more important than short-term followers. A leader must inspire believers. Thank you.

Leaders must Inspire Followers and Create Believers
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
Aziz, you are right, leaders must inspire followers and generate motivaction (motives to take action) This can be accomplished if:
1. The followers believe that the leaders is looking for they well-being
2. The followers believe that the leader is capable
3. The followers perceive the mission as something is worth to pursue (as in 'we are building a new company' versus 'we need to increase productivity by 12%'.

Follower is a Must, the Importance of a Follower in a Leadership
SATISH PANDE, Business Consultant, India, Member
Absolutely right! There is no meaning to the leadership if there are no followers. There could be a point that an astute (Ed: ~smart) leader develops, cultivates the followers, of whom he is sure that they will follow before the launch of an idea...
Could it be true in corporate sector, before a CEO launches a program, he is already sure of all people that will follow? Whose support he can count on? He must ensure that before he launches the program, the chances of success are higher that way! Enclosing a link from Ted which highlights the importance of the first follower(s) in a hilarious way...

If You Look Back are Others Following?
Bruce W Butler, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
Do others seek your advise?
Do others actions demonstrate understanding your vision?
Are you finding employees doing something right more often than doing something wrong?
Do you spend more time clearing obstacles or correcting behaviors?

Leadership is to Have Followers
Monteiro, Consultant, Portugal, Member
Hi everyone, I believe the first who said "Leadership is to have followers" was Peter Drucker. For me that is the only complete definition.
He also said that everything you need to know about it, is already known and you can learn how to improve your leadership.
The one thing he taught us, and was afterwards very well studied and proved, is that "charisma" has nothing to do with it and some excellent leaders weren't more than ordinary people who excelled themselves.
They had several things in common, the leaders learned certain things from history. One was the focus on action. They always asked themselves "what can I do to change what's wrong".
All of them are also believable. They have the credibility to influence their followers to take a course of action that he designs for the team.
They all work towards goals and have a vision of the future and a mission larger than profit or management success.

Did You Say Leadership?
Ramdonee Vikash, Student (MBA), Mauritius, Member
A leader who has many followers who are following him blindly! Is this what we call leadership? Leadership comes from within. It is charisma coupled with action for a better world... For all... Without any self-motive and discrimination. It is about the pleasure to guide others towards a common goal with the right people at the right time. It's definitely not about talking without saying anything.

Leadership is to be a Servant
roseline ikem, Student (MBA), United Kingdom, Member
A leader is a servant who seeks the well being of those around him. He was chosen not because they believe in him to gear them to success, but because he believed the people and saw potential in them.

3 Types of Leaders: Appointed, Self-Appointed and Emerged
M Y Zainudeen, Management Consultant, Sri Lanka, Member
It is interesting to see diversified ideas about leadership. In my view there are three kinds of leaders, appointed leaders, self appointed leaders and emerged leaders. Out of these 3, the emerged leaders arise typically during a crisis, when they identify the way, lead the way and go through the way.
The importance of leadership could clearly be seen in a crisis only as there are no set methodology to sail.
For a person to emerge as a leader (s)he got to have many leadership traits, critical thinking, situation analysis, identifying the need, defining the vision, designing the path, persuading with power and inspiring the followers and so on. These traits to be complimented with soft skills, rather communication and leadership skills, guiding and leading the followers.
This is said easy, but only experience (history) can tell much about the extent of leadership someone had.
The important part of leader is that (s)he guides and leads the followers for a common goal which can be from micro level to macro level.

Charisma is a Leadership Myth
Monteiro, Consultant, Portugal, Member
@Ramdonee Vikash: what is charisma? A personality characteristic that gets you in a better position to be a leader? Is it a skill that you were already born with, or is it something you can improve in yourself to become a better leader?
The issue here is that a leader is always someone "on stage" every second, minute and hour of the day. So he has a single way, to improve himself as a human being, as a communicator.
If there's something every single credible study has shown us, is that true great leaders in history didn't share personality characteristics. Charisma was ruled out by investigations as a common characteristic between great leaders.
Some were informal, others extremely formal, some decided seeking consensus, others retired themselves to decide alone after hearing everyone... Some were nice and easygoing, others were distant. You can find all kinds of differences between great leaders: the attitude towards things and actions, the way they see the organization, etc....

Leadership is Two-way Influence between Leader and Followers
Stephen Adjei, Management Consultant, Ghana, Member
Leadership is about making others feel important and part of leader's vision and objectives for any endeavour. It is doing things through followers. Followers must have trust and confidence in the leader and the leaders must equally believe in the followers. It is a two way affair.

From Interpreting the Future to Selling the Hope to the Followers
M Y Zainudeen, Management Consultant, Sri Lanka, Member
Theoretically a successful leader is a person who:
- interprets the future into a current scenario,
- develops a vision as a solution to a problem or as a compliment to an existing issue, and then
- creates a hope on that vision.
- sells this hope to the people concerned in order them to follow him and make the vision a success.
Subject matter of the hope may vary from developing a small family business to launching a modern type rocket.
We can conclude that innovative thinking, developing strategies and convincing the followers or co-workers to work towards the goal or vision are the prime functions of a leader.

Caution with Focusing on Followership being a Leader
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
This is an interesting topic for discussion that keeps coming up time and time again.
It puzzles me when we focus on followership while defining leadership. Because it is a very shaky road to walk down. History has countless individuals that each of us can think of that appear to have focused on followership, and are historically viewed as dictators or some offensive position of leadership where the energy of their reign was the control of followership.
I believe and practice that true leadership is a characteristic of the leader that others will recognize and embrace without focusing on or making certain one has followers. If you are true, passionate and meaningful in your quest or accomplishment people will follow. Your responsibility then becomes one of both recognition and development of those that follow. They often time follow by choice not dictate.
There are a number of discussions on this topic which is by product of authentic leadership and great leadership, not a driving force or reason to lead.

3 Conditions for a Leader to Have Followers (Ginebra)
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
A leader is a leader when and only when he has followers. Joan Ginebra in his remarkable book 'The Leader and the Action', gives some advise: the 3 conditions to have followers are:
1. The followers shall perceive that the leader is looking for their well-being;
2. The followers shall perceive the leader as a capable person;
3. The followers shall perceive the mission, as a worthwhile goal to pursue.
To achieve the above, the leader needs certain traits per condition:
For condition 1: the leader shall defend the group identity, and take responsibility for bad things on his own shoulders and credit the tema for the good things. For condition 2: the leader shall have a sixth sense of circumstances (be in the right place at the right time) and always have an alternative solution (plan B, C, and D)
For condition 3: define goals that make sense as a transcended purpose: "we are constructing a new country in stead of "we need to increase productivity by 26% to achieve international level" and communicate these goals vividly.

Credibility is the First Principle of Leadership
Monteiro, Consultant, Portugal, Member
@Javier Elenes: I completely agree with that, but I would include a 4th item, that in my opinion should be the first.
However, those 3 items also contribute to the one I believe is missing, which is implicit to leadership. Credibility.
As someone said, "if you don't believe the messenger, you won't give credit to the message.

The First Follower..
Gani Davlatsher, Student (University), United States, Member
Recently I watched a video by Derek Sivers who discusses the importance of the first follower to start a movement.
It made me think: what is more difficult - to be a person with an idea or to be the first follower?
I think that any person may have an idea; these ideas can be good/bad or worth/worthless to follow. A person with an idea may have a hidden agenda, may be using his/her idea to manipulate the people.
But it is for the first follower to understand and decide to follow. The first follower takes this responsibility and risks (it is often risky to follow a person with an idea, especially if the idea has a political concern).
The first follower turns the person with an idea into a leader. Every one of us has our ideas; that doesn't make us leaders; people are prone to follow a person if they have already followers (seems like proven, evidence-based).

The Relationship between the Leadership and the Followers
Adnan Shaswar, Manager, Iraq, Member
Although leadership is a two-way interaction, I believe the role of the leader comes first. It's the leader's responsibility to take initiative and build and strengthen such a role by being a role model in this regard.

A Real Leader is Followed Easily
Monteiro, Consultant, Portugal, Member
@Gani Davlatsher: Hi once again. Really? Do you really think it is hard to be the first follower? People are hungry for leadership. Employees seek someone to follow, they seek visions, and strategies they understand and believe in.
A real leader is followed easily. His passion motivates others to follow without thinking to much because they agree on the path to be taken. They believe it is possible to build a better future and so, they follow.
To be a leader and have difficulties on getting your first follower is a bad start as a leader.
There are studied cases of leaders with the age of 8 and 9 years old. That started movements that have presently hundreds of thousands of followers (see the story about kid's F.A.C.E. on the internet).
If you're really concerned about your company and your co-workers, trust me, they'll follow you.

A Leader Does NOT Need Followers
Zandile Shaba, Financial Consultant, Malawi, Member
My view is that a leader does NOT need followers.
Often times a leader is guided by principles and convictions which may not necessarily be popular. Often times a leader has to stand alone.
The biggest problem we have is that we do not have leaders that are willing to stand by their convictions. Our political leaders are so keen to obtain followers and votes that they are willing to sacrifice their convictions to gain followers.
So in my view, leadership is standing and being led by conviction rather than acquiring followers. Followers may eventually follow, but acquiring followers should not be the goal of leadership.

Definition of Leadership Isn't the Same as Objectives
Monteiro, Consultant, Portugal, Member
@Zandile Shaba: Hi everyone. I think we're confusing a concept, a definition with goals. They are two completely different things. If you have no followers, you're no leader at all, probably, and it is already a very good thing, you lead yourself.
The "job description" of a leader may be to have followers (formally or not), but the goals are completely different.
One final note. A person that stands alone isn't a leader, mainly because he misses the ability to communicate his vision. Though I understand the "bold" sentences, in fact they aren't correct. It's a mixture of different fields, that should stand alone when we consider anything. One is the definition, another thing is the objectives of a certain function.
The objective of leadership is to achieve goals. Company, team and individual goals of the leader and his followers. To have followers isn't and shouldn't ever be an objective. But if no one follows you... You just don't have, or haven't developed what it takes to.

RE: a Leader Does NOT Need Followers
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
@Zandile Shaba: You are exactly correct: there are circumstances when the leader is obliged to assume a moral burden which isolates him from the popular wisdom or convenient opinion. In fact, it is that willingness to deviate from the norm, from conviction that characterizes leadership in many historic circumstances.
A Man for All Seasons is a favorite film of mine for that reason, as is the career of Gen. Billy Mitchell in regards to air power. Henry Ford's determination to create literally the first Volkswagen, while Alan Sloan's courage to challenge Ford by expanding that vision is another, while Edsal Ford's willingness to challenge his father at considerable personal sacrifice allowed the Ford company to survive Sloan's challenge.
The role of command is not a comfortable one for exactly that reason: it is not a popularity contest even when the the wise choice is also the popular one.

Credibility is the Number 1 Characteristic of a Leader
Monteiro, Consultant, Portugal, Member
The credibility of a leader is the way to make everything happen. It is implicit in the 3 rules presented by Javier Elenes in this discussion, but should be mentioned seperately.
Credibility is the "link" that allows a leader to communicate his vision (the company vision to be more precise), to make the followers believe he's interested in their well being, etc.

Leaders Can Stand Alone
Vicky Jha, Manager, Nepal, Member
@Zandile Shaba: I totally agree. It may take long for the masses to understand what the leader stands for. It may be that the leader would need to stand strong all alone with his own convictions- the ones who start to understand start to follow. The followers are not the strength of a leader but his own convictions are.
You can't fake leadership. It's a mental and physical state that needs to be attained and often calls for heavy personal sacrifices.

A Leader Must Have Followers
COL SUNDER LALVANI, Coach, India, Member
@Zandile Shaba: I believe, you do in fact have good leadership potential when you make this comment about 'Leaders need not have Followers'. Because, few leaders have the courage of conviction today i.e. to stand up for what they believe is right. But that does not mean conceptually that a leader does not need followers! If you are a good leader and believe you are right and have to take an unpopular stand, then you must use your ingenuity to convince others of your wisdom; thereby, converting a negative situation into a positive one.
Thus, leaders must have followers, else, who are they leading?!

How Belief Generates Followership
Vipul Nahar, India, Member
The claim that a goal can be achieved without other people's support holds true, but to refer to that achiever as a leader, does not hold true at all and that is simply because a leader has to have followers.
In the beginning, yes the 'leader' has to stand alone for his/her objective and work towards the accomplishment without hoping for any followers. Once they have seen his/her diligence and honesty towards the goal, other people will start believing and following him/her. So the leader has to start off in such a way that he/she can reserve a place in people's belief system first. This will happen only if people can see an effect of change in leader's vision which will in turn benefit the targeted society.
It's not easy to bind people in this journey, because many of them join for a short term and/or for a personal cause too.
So it's important to craft your vision so strategically that people start moving forward not only for their own personal interests, but also for the overall vision.


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