Sunday, 19 December 2010
Followers do not a leader make: relationships count
On twitter, at the time of writing, I have 1452 followers. Does this make me a leader? True, all of those people have actively clicked on my 'follow' button and will (until they choose otherwise) see my 140 character pearls of wisdom and comment. But I don't think this makes me any kind of leader. Just having followers does not make anyone a leader.
Certainly, if you claim to be a leader and no one is following you, then your claim may not stand up to much scrutiny. But just because you can look around and see people following you does not necessarily make you a leader either. You have to wonder, why are these people following me? Are they doing so because they are contractually obliged to, or it is just in their interest to do so, or because someone they do respect has told them to follow you?. Even if they have chosen to follow you - are they doing anything different as a result? And so forth...
The relationships between leaders and their followers are ultimately what count. Do the followers respect and trust the leader, do they want to emulate the leader's actions or beliefs? Does the relationship have an impact at all on how the followers conduct their lives - professionally or personally?
Moreover, do you, as a leader, do things differently because you know that your followers will observe what you do? Does that responsibility inspire or restrict you?
So the next time, you hear someone talk about leaders having followers (I saw a presentation recently which featured this insight just recently), I would urge you to ask them a question or two about the relationship between leaders and their followers.
As a leader or follower: how are your relationships?