Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

I am often asked where all the real leaders have gone. Not just the canned phony orators who stammer and stumble when their teleprompter freezes, but real leaders whose values are embedded, and naturally come from the heart.

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

There are many reasons that genuine leaders are difficult to find. One reason there is a void of leadership today is proclaimed by a “bumper sticker” I saw a few years ago. It stated very boldly…”LEAD… Follow…or get out of the way!” (Actually, it didn’t say it as nicely as I worded it here). Yet, it does remind us that it certainly takes both leaders and followers to get things done. I believe it was John Maxwell who once wrote, “If you think you are leading and no one is following, you are only taking a walk.”

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In order for anyone to truly lead, there must be committed followers to the cause or mission. Leaders and followers need each other. Where there are few followers, or when potential followers don’t care, all the leadership skills that you can possibly demonstrate, are unproductive. Unfortunately, this lack of a commitment to support or follow a great cause is one of our serious social ills of the 21st century and it has carried over into the workplace with employee apathy.

But, as the “bumper sticker” implies, there is also a significant third category. It is neither followership nor leadership but that of the indifferent observer. This third category is a growing force in our social media culture and it makes quality leadership even more challenging than ever before! The “observer” is usually not interested in a mission or a vision, but in actually maintaining a space or distance from leaders and followers. From the perspective of a leader, this detachment hinders the potential ideas and creative resources available from the observer. All too often, their lack of commitment and support may inadvertently spread and create general resistance against all efforts at leadership in your organization.

Leadership Qualities for Today

Today’s leaders must have the leadership skills, enthusiasm and savvy to engage the observers and motivate them away from being mere observers… to becoming committed followers. If you want to know how this can be achieved, contact a professional leadership consultant and begin learning these essential qualities.

Our Cleveland leadership development expert has helped hundreds of clients in northern Ohio to become better leaders. Contact us today or schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you, your team, or your organization grow.