In praise of following

Leadership is overrated.

Think about it. If everyone leads, no one’s following, no one’s paying attention, and no one cares about anyone else. Not that being a leader means you don’t care about anyone else. It’s just that if you’re a leader, but not leading anyone – because no one’s a follower – then you’re not really caring about anyone else.

Granted, in the real world, we don’t have to worry about everyone becoming leaders. There will always be followers. But will there always be good followers, people who do it on purpose?

I know not everyone is into Twitter, but I’m going to use it as an example anyway. The majority of the people on Twitter want to be leaders. They want other people to follow them. The problem with that is that Twitter can easily become a platform where everyone’s talking (shouting even) but no one’s listening.

But guess what, guys? The day that happens, the day we realize that it has happened, is the day Twitter dies.

The same is true in real life. The day people stop following is the day leadership dies. Actually, I think it’s already dying.

“We don’t need new info – we need the courage to follow through with what we already know.” That’s one of my favorite quotes. But let’s apply that to leadership: “We don’t need more leaders – we need the courage to follow the ones we already have.”

We need that loyalty, not the novelty. We need the people who will stand up and say, “You know, I don’t have to be the center of attention. I don’t have to get the credit. I don’t have to move people in my direction. But I’d love to make someone else be the center of attention. I’d love to give someone else the credit. I’d love to move people in someone else’s┬ádirection.”

We should have “follower conferences,” you know. And I’m not talking about creating mindless pawns. I’m talking about encouraging people to look past their own independent ambitions to see what’s already out there.

The world is huge, and the leaders are moving. Problem is, very few of us are following them. Very few follow on purpose.