If You Want to be a Leader, Stop Looking for Followers

I believe that everyone is born to be a leader in their own area of life.  However, this idea is in contrast to many of the leadership philosophies of the past.  In fact, many cultures today still teach that to be a leader you need to have followers.

The Chinese have a proverb which goes something like this: “He who thinks he leads and has no one following is simply taking a walk.”  I disagree with this axiom and will take the rest of this article to explain why. The truth of the matter is that you don’t need to have followers to be a leader and you certainly don’t need to seek out followers either.

If you think about the idea that leaders don’t need to look for followers, it will start to make sense.  Most of the great leaders that we read about in history never actually sought followers. Instead, they focused on being a leader in their area of expertise or in their own domain.  By focusing on personal growth and achieving greatness, the followers came naturally. The great people of the past (and present) were leaders first and then the followers came second.

If you become a leader first, obtaining followers will be easy.

When a person focuses on seeking out followers it is proof that they, in fact, are not leaders. This is because someone who is seeking to gain followers is usually primarily looking out for their self-interest. In other words, they are looking to boost their egos, their bank account, or create self-worth to give themselves a sense of value. People who attempt to become leaders this way will eventually lose all of the followers that they worked so hard to gain when the followers eventually discover the truth.

Leaders should be looking to set an example for others.  What kind of example is set if a leader is always looking to increase their followers?  This is not the way of a true leader.  Leaders don’t need to amass a following to just give value to themselves nor to position themselves as leaders. Leaders should focus on the things that leaders should do, such as modeling the way, shaping the path, coaching others, and developing themselves for a higher purpose, rather on trying to build a following.

Become the Leader You Were Born to Be

Each one of us was created with unique gifts and talents that can be used to better the world around us. Inside of us is something that the world needs. By focusing on leading where you gifted, you will excel, find success, change the world, and gain followers all at the same time. When you have something to offer the world that no one else can offer, people will flock to you.  Furthermore, when you have become a world-class leader in a specific area of life, you will not need to promote yourself either.

Path to lost and found

Discover Your Gift

Everyone has to discover their purpose in life if they eventually want to become the leader that they were meant to be.  Ever notice how people who say that they have not discovered their purpose in life seem to walk around aimlessly? Whether they know it or not, their soul yearns to discover their purpose.  Without this discovery, nothing will satisfy them nor will they be able to lead or serve others well. In addition, people without purpose tend to try and become something that they are not.

This is one of the biggest problems with the world and society today. A lot of people don’t know who they are or what their purpose in life is. If you don’t know who you are then the world will tell you who you are or you’ll spend your time trying to be someone else.  At worst, you’ll only live up to the expectations of the people whom you surround yourself with.  Everyone has an opinion of you and it doesn’t have much to do with who you really are. Furthermore, if you don’t know who you are, then you also won’t know who you are not. This is why it is so vital for you to discover this for yourself.

Once you discover your purpose, it will feel like you’ve stopped paddling upstream and finally turned the boat around.  Your natural inclinations and talents will be enhanced and you will finally be able to achieve excellence and greatness. Once you know your purpose, no one can tell you who are you; no one’s opinion of you will be able to change you. Every person on the planet is a leader in their own way.  You were created to dominate within your area influence. It begins with discovering what your leadership gift is.

If you need a book to help you get started on your self-discovery journey, I suggest giving The Purpose Driven Life a read.  Check our review of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren here.

Do Something Great

Refine Your Gift

Refining your gift or purpose is what will take you from being good to being great. Refining your gift means working hard to become the best of the best. This is where personal development becomes exceedingly important. You must train your mind, body, and spirit in ways that will help to intensify that which can drive and grow your purpose.  Natural skills and talents will only take you so far in life. To achieve the next level, you must work hard at improving yourself and refining your gift. Successful people in all areas of life had to work hard to get to where they are today. No one achieves greatness by sitting around and doing nothing.

At Build Grow Lead, we’ve written several articles on the subject of becoming a better version of yourself.  Instead of linking them all here, check our archive page: Build Grow Lead Archived Articles

Serve Your Gift

Being a leader means being a servant. Once you have discovered and refined your gift, serve it to the world. Give it out to people in an effort to make the world a better place. Serving others is ultimately what will end up defining you as a leader. All of the great men and women of history are remembered for what they did for others not for what they did for themselves. Be a leader in your own purpose and you’ll find fulfillment beyond what is imaginable today. 

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