Follow the Leader


I have a confession.

No, not the kind of "confession" that recording-artist Usher talks about on his album. The confession I'm talking about is how I feel about leadership. I both LOVE & HATE leadership. I love it when it works, and moreover, when it works for me. But I highly dislike it...nay, I hate it when it goes wrong. Why? Because when leadership goes wrong it not only affects the leader, but moreover, it affects the followers. When leadership goes wrong, it's usually because the leader lacks the understanding of what it means to lead.

The funny thing about leadership is that the word itself is in no way the sum of its parts. Identifying exactly what makes a leader can be an endless task that could go on forever. So what do we do? Stop leading all together? Nope. What we do is we figure it out. We find out what I call the "non-negotiables" of leadership and we apply them to our lives so that, as leaders, we don't drop the ball and mess it all up.
Nobody wants to be that guy. That said, here are 3 non-negotiables when it comes to leading:

  1. It's not about you. Leadership is rarely about the one who is leading and is more about those who are following. As leaders, we aren't measured by the fact that we are the "ones in charge," but rather by our ability to lead others. We do this by abandoning our own egos and embracing needs of those that follow us; regardless of how unpopular that decision may be at the time.

  2. Communication is key. A leader is reflected in the behavior of his or her followers. A leader who communicates nothing and assumes everything will create that same behavior in their followers. Lack of communication in leadership due to the inability to handle confrontation and conflict will breed a frustration in the followers; this, in turn, will only lead to more confrontation and conflict. It is far easier to clearly articulate expectations than it is to not state them and leave it open to interpretation.

  3. Leadership is really about "followship." Our ability to lead only as good as our ability to follow. Trust me when I say, "If you don't plan to follow, then don't plan to lead." Here's the reason: The fires of "followship" create the humility, patience, and perspective that one can only find under the umbrella of being led by another. It helps to understand the hearts and desires of our followers and makes our ability to lead all the more effective. If we are without a greater leader to call our own, then we will rapidly lose the perspective of those that we lead ourselves. Without the ability to understand our followers comes the loss of our ability to help our followers in their time of need. Colin Powell says it best: "When soldiers stop bringing you their problems, it's either because they feel you can't help them, or because they feel you don't care. Either is the result of a failure in leadership."

Ultimately, a follower doesn't care how much you know about leadership; what a follower cares about is about is how much you're willing to submit yourself to becoming the leader they need, regardless of the cost to your own convenience.

There is no "Leadership is," there is only "Leadership does."

Comment below with some "non-negotiables" that you have found in leadership, or at least, some attributes that you have valued in leaders in your own life.