When I was a child, my friends and I used to play Follow the Leader. One of us led, and the rest had to follow, doing everything that the leader did. For this game to work, you could only have one leader, which might sound simple, but in the context of today's world, I don't think it's that obvious.
I teach several leadership development training courses, and one of the questions I always ask my trainees is: "What's the one most important ingredient for a leader?"
People respond with various characteristics--communication, vision, drive, etc. "Yes," I tell them, "those are important, but what one thing must you have to be a leader?" Trainees rarely figure out the answer: followers.
If no one is following, then you're not leading.
I bring this up today because I'm often struck by American society's focus on leadership. We teach our children to lead. We ask questions about leadership when interveiwing potential employees. Companies ask me to teach their employees to become leaders. If everyone is leading, who is following?
No one person should always be the leader. Each of us must be a follower at some point. The very nature of leadership means that the one with the specific talents steps forward to lead at the right time. When the situation requires different talents, someone else steps forward. I don't think we teach people this, either to children or adults. Is it any wonder, we get caught up in meetings or long discussions that go nowhere? We strive to lead in order to show others that we have the umph it takes to belong.
Reminds me of that old saying, "Too many cooks in the kitchen..."
So, I leave you with this thought:
If you find yourself forcing your leadership in an area beyond your expertise, step back. Allow the true leader to step forward and shine. Your time will come.
As for my writing friends (since this is a writing blog), how do you portray this in your writing? Do your characters jostle for leadership? Do they have followers? What kind of leadership culture have you created within the world of your story?
Now, I'm going to leave and follow someone ... probably a slow driver.
PS I just noticed that this is my 100th post! Cool! I'll give a copy of Child of My Child: Poems and Stories for Grandparents which includes my essay "Unexpected" to a random commenter living in the continental US. So, please add your comments below and celebrate post 100 with me!