Issue Number 18: More Leaders or More Followers?

Leaders are everywhere. All you need is the patience and skill to find them. Few of us are leaders in all situations, but nearly all of us are situational leaders.

Great leaders look for more leaders because they want to share responsibility and authority throughout the team. They have confidence in their ability and are willing to take the risk that in enabling someone else to lead. They are aware that they are also creating potential competitors, but like the person who owns this boat, they have no worries.

The seemingly easy way to discourage challenges to your leadership is to create as many followers as you can. From what I have seen, that actually makes your life more difficult.

So how do you manage the risk in looking for more leaders? You let them know that, while you appreciate their expertise and the contributions they make, you are the leader among leaders. Through your example you demonstrate that with more leaders working together in the same direction you are all more likely to succeed. You position yourself as the person who can help them achieve what they want and they will support you, if only for their own self-interest.

The rewards of looking for more leaders are plentiful – more accomplishments, more creativity, more commitment and less work for you. Part of that conversation is letting people know they do not always have to be in charge to make a contribution. Give them the freedom to lead and to follow. You are still going to find some who are not comfortable stepping up to a leadership role, and it is important that you appreciate the role they play.

Not everyone can lead the parade. Some quietly contribute great ideas, some implement those ideas and some lead the applause while the parade goes by.

The best leaders appreciate all of them.

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