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Are you a leader or a follower?

Posted by | June 12, 2015 | Leadership, Workplace

Via LinkedIn : Following from my last few posts, I want to you to ask yourself some questions to gauge whether you think you’re a leader, or a follower.

Leadership is the art of persuasion, the act of motivating people to do more than they ever thought possible in pursuit of a greater good. It has nothing to do with your title, authority or seniority.

You’re not a leader just because you have people reporting to you. You also don’t suddenly become a leader once you reach a certain level. A true leader influences others to achieve their best. Leadership is about social influence and how people react to their influences, not the power of a job title. If your actions inspire others to do more and be more, then you are a leader.

Of course, the whole point of this post is to ask, are you a leader or a follower?

To find out, you need to ask yourself some very important questions. Answer them honestly and see if it makes a difference to your perception.

Are you willing to learn?

Leaders, while confident, know that they’re not superhuman, and can fail. They’re not afraid to admit when they don’t know something, and they’re willing to learn from anyone who can teach them, whether that person is a subordinate or a superior. Followers are too busy trying to prove they’re competent to learn anything from anyone else.

Do you go above and beyond?

Followers do their jobs, and that’s it. No matter how good they may be at those jobs, it rarely occurs to them to go beyond their basic functions. Leaders see their job descriptions as the bare minimum, the basis as to where the job starts. Leaders see their real role as adding value to the great good, and they add it whenever and wherever they see an opportunity.

Are you humble?

Followers are always chasing glory, always shouting THEIR successes. Leaders are humble, they are the first to thank and acknowledge people for helping the team succeed. They don’t allow any authority they may have to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. They don’t hesitate to jump in and do the work nobody else wants to do, and they won’t ask anyone to do anything they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.

A good sporting example, Messi and Ronaldo. Where Ronaldo will go for glory, be annoyed at team mates scoring instead of himself, celebrate alone. Messi will immediately thank the person who played the pass, made the tackle, made the unglorfied run.

Are you open to change?

Followers are content with how things are, they fear change. Leaders see opportunity in change. Because leaders want constant improvement, they’re never afraid to ask, “What’s next?”

Are you decisive?

Followers don’t like to act, out of fear that they’ll do the wrong thing. Leaders aren’t afraid to make a decision, even when they’re not sure if it’s the right one. They’d rather make a decision and be wrong than suffer from the idea they are indecisive.

Do you accept Responsibility?

When mistakes are made, followers will blame other people or other things. Leaders are the opposite, they quickly accept accountability for their actions. They don’t worry that admitting that they are wrong might make them look bad, because they know that blaming someone else, will make them look worse.

Are you confident?

Followers see the talents and accomplishments of other people as a threat. Leaders see those same talents and accomplishments as an asset. They want to make things better, and they’ll be open to help anywhere they can find it. Leaders are true team players. They aren’t afraid to admit that they need other people to succeed and to make them strong where they are weak.

Are you unflappable?

Followers often let obstacles and mishaps throw them off course. When something goes wrong, they crumble. Leaders anticipate obstacles and love the challenge. They know that even the best plans can run into problems, so they take problems in their stride and ride the task to completion.

Are you passionate?

Followers are trapped in the daily grind. They go to work and complete their tasks so that they can go home at the end of the day and resume their real lives. Leaders love what they do and see their work as an important part of life. Their job isn’t just what they do; it’s an important part of who they are.

Do you focus on titles?

Followers care a lot about titles, both their own and those of the people they work with. They’re very conscious of who outranks whom. Leaders, on the other hand, focus on what each individual brings to the table, regardless of what’s printed on a business card.

So, are you a follower or a leader?

Take another quick look at the questions above. There’s not a single one about title or position. That’s because you can have the title and position without being a leader. You may have worked for someone who fits that description. And you probably have colleagues who serve in leadership roles without a title.

Leadership and fellowership are mindsets. They’re completely different ways of looking at the world. One is reactive, and the other is proactive. One is pessimistic; the other is optimistic. Where one sees a to-do list, the other sees possibilities.

So don’t wait for the title. Leadership isn’t something that anyone can give you, you have to earn it and claim it for yourself.

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