To Lead or Not to Lead? That is Not the Question

We are taking a one week break from The Speed of Trust series. Next week, we will be back at it with the start of our final posts on the subject.

Yes, this week’s title is cheesy.

No, I will not be revising any more Shakespeare quotes.

I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “You are either a leader or a follower” or some version of that phrase. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this phrase, because it insinuates that being the latter is less appealing or less important than the former. In other words, being a follower is bad while being a leader is good.

I have two assertions in this post:

  1. Everyone is a leader.
  2. Being a follower is good too.

Everyone is a leader.

If you Google the definition of “leader,” you will get an array of different answers. It can be a bit overwhelming. So, I boiled all the definitions down to “someone who influences and inspires.” And we all influence and inspire someone.

Too often, we think of leaders as those in the spotlight. High profile people. We think of powerful leaders, good leaders, and bad leaders. All of them influence and inspire.

Likewise, every individual influences and inspires someone. That someone doesn’t have to be a whole company or a whole country. No, that someone is just one someone. And we all have at least one person who looks up to us.

And that makes each of us a leader.

Being a follower is good too.

Being a leader in every aspect of life and in every situation is unrealistic. Even though being a leader does not necessarily mean being “in charge,” it can. This is why organizations have supervisors and bosses. The final decision ends somewhere.

However, not being “in charge” does not negate your leadership. Remember the definition–one who influences and inspires. A lot of people influence and inspire who are not the boss. In fact, many of these people are the ones who influence and inspire the decision maker. That’s an important responsibility.

So, what is the question?

Let’s go back to the title of this post. “To lead, or not to lead? That is not the question.”

In the first section, we determined we are all leaders to someone. Therefore, not leading is not an option.

However, in the second section, we discussed how our leader/follower status changes depending on the situation. One is not better than the other; just different.

As leaders, we can have a positive influence on others, or we can have a negative influence.

Thus, the question isn’t whether or not to lead. You are leading. Instead, the question becomes what kind of leader do you want to be?

Thanks for reading,

DeAnne Negley, T-LMHC, NCC

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