I recently spotted this on a tee shirt in the gym on a young man working with a trainer. My first thought was this is the type of “rah rah” slogan used by many sales and marketing sessions to “pump up” a team or a group of would be team leaders.
After some thought, however, I began to develop a concern that it was, perhaps, designed to build up leaders as the expense of denigrating “followers”, which began to beg the question “can leaders exist without followers?”
In a recent discussion with several like-minded people we spent some time discussing the concept of Leaders, Followers and Frankies (after the Frank of “I did it my way” fame). I will leave the discussion of Frankies for another time. We had no real trouble discussing leaders and the various qualities of leadership.
We explored leadership in the context of “great leaders” and determined that for the most part great leaders fell into two categories;
people who were in the right place at the right time and accomplished great things; and
people who over a period of time generated a following of people who “believed” in the statements, tenets or beliefs of the leader.
We also concluded that for the most part leaders come and go, have their time in the sun and are replaced by others.
The conclusion is that without followers, leaders cannot exist. Leaders must find and inspire followers in order to achieve greatness in leadership and like all leaders, followers will come and go with the leaders.
At most times in our lives we are both leaders and followers.