Are You a Follower or a Leader?

career follower leadership Jun 24, 2022

Are you a leader or a follower? The answer to this question can depend on several factors, including your personality type, upbringing, and life experiences. Some people are more inclined to take charge and make decisions, while others prefer to go with the flow and follow the lead of others. This blog post will explore the differences between followers and leaders and discuss factors that may determine which category you fall into in an organization or workplace.

Do you have leadership skills, or are you more of a follower?

Are you a leader or a follower? You most likely have encountered this statement as an interview question in your job interviews back when you are still looking for entry-level jobs. It continues to be one of the common interview questions even when looking for a different job midway in your career. Interviewers ask this question to determine if a person possesses the necessary leadership qualities or is more suited for rank-and-file jobs. As an applicant, you may get inclined to answer that you are flexible enough to be given any position so you can secure a job. However, it will show later once you are in the organization what you can do, and your managers will see if you are more suited to be a good follower or lead people better. Generally speaking, various noticeable traits signify whether one is more of a follower than a leader. They may not necessarily apply to everyone, but it will be good to note if you possess these traits or not to see whether you can do your job better as a follower or a leader.

1. Call of duty

When you look at the job description of a particular position in a company, you will see a list of job requirements and the responsibilities associated with the job title. For somebody more of a follower, meeting all these requirements and finishing daily tasks for their jobs is enough. Once they accomplish them, they can dillydally and start slacking off because there is nothing else to do. Once the job gets done, it's time to rest and go home.

On the other hand, leaders can step above and beyond their line of duty and do tasks that are not necessarily in their job description. For example, they may think of ways to improve work processes, help people under their supervision, and do chores for the next day ahead of time. Again, it's about making things better that can benefit others.

2. Resiliency to challenges and failures

When challenges and failures occur, followers may have their resolve and confidence shaken. It can cause them to go off track with what they must do. A person who is more of a follower may want to finish daily tasks to keep problems from occurring. If their boss offers to do something more challenging than their daily tasks, they may reject it due to fear of failure and having to do more strenuous work.

It's a different case for leaders. Challenges, failures, and problems are all learning experiences for them. They know these things are part of the journey towards success. In addition, these things allow them to try different approaches to work as they serve as signs that something may not have worked. As a result, leaders won't easily get fazed when they occur.

3. Openness to learning

As one goes up the career ladder, job titles gain more responsibilities and task requirements. Therefore, it may require one to learn new skills and knowledge necessary to perform the new obligations. As a result, some people may be hesitant to go up in rank since they don't feel confident enough to handle the new job's responsibilities. But, on the other hand, they may feel comfortable enough in their current position and are not much open to learning anything new as they can be a bother, or it just adds more to their plate.

People who have the leadership blood in them see learning as an opportunity to help them grow. It's a chance for them to perform better in their work so they can do better and help other people.

4. What does work mean for you

For most people, their jobs are a way to earn money, and that's it. They have to finish what is asked of them daily, mingle with coworkers, and then go home afterward. This kind of thinking causes others to avoid taking more responsibility by taking a higher-ranking position, which means there will be more work and a hassle. As long as their current position pays enough, it's good already.

Those who have the potential to be a leader, or are already in a leadership position, may see more to their work than just being a money-making avenue. They see something of value in their work that can help them make a difference for themselves and others. For a leader, going to work is more than just about the paycheck; it can be their true calling and passion.

5. How you see other people at work

As a regular worker, you may see your coworkers as people you spend time chatting with and have some fun with during breaks. But on the other hand, some people may see coworkers as threats, especially those with talents and skills that can make it easier for them to rise the career ladder. For a true leader, what is essential is what their followers can do. They recognize the skills and knowledge that everyone possesses and utilizes them to bring the greater good that can benefit everyone. For a good leader, other talented people are not a competition but are a source of support that can help the entire group.

6. Looking at the long-term or short-term

A leader gets usually entrusted with responsibilities involving managing people and looking at the bigger picture. As such, they focus more on steering things in the right direction and looking for ways to improve processes. On the other hand, followers usually get assigned tasks that deal with the bread and butter of operations. These jobs must meet the minimum standards to ensure that work goes smoothly. How you see things and being curious about what goes beyond your tasks can determine whether you are a leader or a follower.

7. Handling responsibility and accountability

True leaders know to be responsible for their actions, especially if mistakes happen. As a result, they are not afraid to be held accountable and are willing to take corrective measures to ensure failures don't happen again. On the other hand, some people may resort to blaming others when something goes wrong. This behavior occurs because they must maintain their reputation as they may lose their jobs if the fault goes to them.

A leader is not just a title.

Anybody can become a leader. However, you can consider only some to be good leaders. A leader is not just a title. It's a set of traits and mentality that allows one to perform effectively for the role. If you see somebody among your people exhibits the characteristics that make a great leader even when they are still at an entry-level job, take note of these individuals as they may become excellent leaders someday. However, it's still up to the individual whether he chooses to be a follower or a leader. Some are content with following a leader and doing their tasks diligently without moving up in rank, which is okay.

On the other hand, some have the calling and skills of a leader and are willing to be one. The ideal individual can become both a leader and a follower as circumstances change. Flexibility in adapting the role between the two is an excellent skill to help you in your career.

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