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The leader or the follower?

With any idea or movement, the leader stands out as the core, the person who deserves credit for all. We commend leaders and and aspire to be them. The followers, however, get the short end of the stick. People do not realize that followers often emulate other followers, not leaders. They can relate to followers and receive motivation more easily. Nevertheless, leaders are necessary. They create the ideas. But what idea can grow without the follower?

Who, in your opinion, is more important: the leader or the follower?


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    Sep 3 2011: It kind of varies, right? The leader is important because they are the innovators and without a starting point there can be no follow up. The follower is important because they keep the leader grounded, with the support of the follower the leader can easily obtain his/her goal and share the experience.
    Of-course then there are those who treat the followers as servants, and the leaders are the kings, in which case the servant never gets recognized and the king takes all the credit. But even this differs from person to person, a big heart will have more room to share the goods then a stiff one.
    • Sep 3 2011: Yes, I agree. They are both vital. Who do you think deserves the credit?
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        Sep 3 2011: Micheal,

        I think assigning or seeking credit is missing the value of both. All deserve credit, but if credit is the goal, the endeavor is inherently superficial.

        The risk of assigning either sole credit is that it undermines the myriad and dynamic contributions of all involved. The best leaders are good because a big part of what they do is coax followers to see themselves as leaders who spread the idea in different vernaculars, sectors and environments. If followers are assigned credit as followers, its far harder for them to break out of following to lead. If leaders see themselves only as leaders, they'll learn far less from so-called followers whose iterations and interpretations of the leaders original ideas are often powerful agents for growth, evolution and perpetuation of originating ideas.

        So either title and any attempts to assign value is limited if it is seen as static, linear or stereotypical. In truth, I think followers struggle most with this. If they choose not to see themselves as leaders in some dimension of what they follow, what they follow will struggle to thrive.

        The challenge for all is to look for, nurture and develop those passions and skills that each uniquely possess. The co-reflective effect can be powerful for both. This often requires the leader to, well, take the lead in recognizing and engaging followers as co-leaders. But, it also requires followers to seeing themselves as co-leaders, which can take time and some discomfort to venture out of the safeness of blending into the crowds.

        • Sep 3 2011: Wow. Very well said and insightful. I've always thought there is a difference between a manager and a leader. While a manager might be in charge of a movement or a team, a leader can be anyone.
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        Sep 3 2011: Leader. He m o v e s the crowd. What a responsibility.

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