Is Following A Form Of Leading?

A Critical Doer understands following

 Is following in reality a form of leading?

 I recently read one of Michael Hyatt’s Blog posts entitled “Tale of Two Leaders.”  In this post, he tells about encounters with two different ministers he met during his days as a publisher.  The first spent his entire interview talking about himself and his new book.  At the end of the interview, Hyatt describes not feeling like he knew this pastor and he still felt that way during their 10 year business relationship.  The second talked mainly about Hyatt, asked questions about his family, things he was doing…in fact, Hyatt said that during the interview, he never asked a single question.

The first minister left him feeling empty.  The second left him feeling alive and important.  The first was famous but now irrelevant.  The second was Billy Graham…a man who changed millions of lives through his unassuming and humble style of leadership…or followership?

Many mistakenly believe that leadership is about being the center of attention…and the execution of leadership embraces words like directing and controlling.  Followership implies walking behind someone…obedience and compliance are words often associated with followership.

Critical Doers, let’s set the record straight.  Leadership isn’t about control…it’s about influence.  Control lasts no longer than your formal authority exists and you are physically present.  Influence flows through moral authority granted by choice…and that legacy far outlasts your physical presence.

The question for you becomes…how do you turn followership into leadership?  Here are some points to ponder for turning your followership example into leadership influence…remember, it’s all about focus:

  1. Focus on the organization’s mission and goals. Through showing loyalty to your organization, you demonstrate the ability to grasp something larger than yourself.  If you talk about your agenda more than your organization’s agenda, you’re neither following nor leading…you’re most likely obstructing.
  2. Focus on others. When you ask how someone is doing, do you listen for the reply and cue into subtleties that indicate they’re not okay?  Do you know the names of your associates family members, hobbies, etc so they understand you care about them as much as what they can do?  Putting yourself subordinate to others in casual conversation is a powerful cultivator of influence.
  3. Focus on innovation. Without being prompted, do you look for ways to save time, save money, improve a product or service, and in general make it your business to make things better?  In showing your loyalty through proactive followership, you grow leadership influence.


If there’s a situation at home or work where you are having trouble leading, it may be the problem is your ability to follow.  Examine the situation and see if you can apply the 3 focus areas to be a better follower, which in turn will eventually earn you the right to lead.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


Reminder:  you can get automatic updates from The Critical Doer by using the subscription widget at the bottom of this post.  You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  I also encourage you to let me know what you think of the posts or share a story of your own using the comments section or email me directly at [email protected].


Updated: March 19, 2015 — 9:10 am

1 Comment

  1. A little over a year ago, I was asked to become a deacon at my church. During a class I took on “deaconship”, I learned, (and many may be surprised to learn) that a deacon is NOT a leadership position. A deacon is a servant. A servant is the ultimate “critical doer”, because a servant is “someone who does” for someone else. In my role as a deacon, I try to constantly remind myself of this. However, others in the church, who see me and my fellow deacons “doing”, almost always see us as “leaders”. As servants, we are also followers…followers of the Master Servant known as Christ. So, yes, following can be a form of leading.

Comments are closed.