It is a topic we hear about almost incessantly. Churches are seeking, developing and empowering leaders. Your boss at work is looking for a leader on the team.
Many of us decide whether to read a book or an article, to download a podcast or to have our ears open at all based on whether we believe we are leaders. Our answer to the question, “Am I a/the leader?” is powerful. And it has more impact on our lives other than which section to browse through at the bookstore.
The question of being a leader opens a world of possibility whichever answer you give. Some people believe that everyone is a leader. While we all have some leadership capacity, whether it is a “1” or a “7”, we cannot all lead at the same time.
The often overlooked issue of leadership is followership. If we are all leading, who is following? As it has been said, “If you don’t have any followers you are not really leading.” As a result, anyone who is truly in the place of a follower constantly finds himself without a message, without a rallying point. (That’s why my next project is a book entitled, “Follow Me.”)
If we look at the question, “Am I a/the leader?” and the answer is “No,” is that the end of the line? What else is there for us? First we have to do decide why we answered, “No.”
Some of us answer “No” because we are followers. We understand that there is someone ahead of us on the path. They sound a rallying call and we come running. They cast vision and we get to work. They put a plan in front of us and we get to work.
When you are the follower you have to be mindful that it is your position to follow. Let the leader lead. Find fulfillment in being part of something greater than yourself. Understand that even though you are not at the top of the ladder or the face of the organization, the success of the whole depends on you. “No” is not always a negative answer. It is positive when it helps you form a clear understanding of your role.
Of course, there is another reason someone might say “No” when asked if they are a leader. For them it is not about keeping perspective and fulfilling their role in a way that benefits the whole. It is not about followership. Some people say they are not the leader because they do not want the responsibility.
These are the people who are part of a team that is disorganized, misses deadlines, and is on the verge of coming apart. They are not interested in the success of the whole, only in keeping themselves out of hot water. Sure, they show up and get their job done. But don’t ask them to stay an extra half-an-hour. Don’t bring up the due date that is fast approaching. As long as they get their pay, the fruit of their labors, they are happy. Look to someone else to turn the ship around. They have what they want out of it.
Are you a leader? If you are not, then follow. With all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, follow the leader. If you could be, step up and fill the void. If you don’t care, that may be a good thing, because you may suddenly find yourself off the team.
Are you a leader? What criteria do you use to answer that question?