Every day we make a choice to either be a leader or a follower. Even if your role is as an individual contributor with no direct responsibility for others, your attitude can determine whether you are a leader or a follower.
The following poem outlines the attitudes and attributes of a true leader:
LEADERS VS. FOLLOWERS
When leaders make a mistake,
they say, “I was wrong.”
When followers make mistakes,
they say, “It wasn’t my fault.”
A leader works harder than a follower
and has more time;
a follower is always “too busy”
to do what is necessary.
A leader goes through a problem;
a follower goes around it and never gets past it.
A leader makes and keeps commitments;
a follower makes and forgets promises.
A leader says. “I’m good, but not as good as I ought to be;”
a follower says, “I’m not as bad as a lot of other people.”
followers just wait until it’s their turn to talk.
Leaders respect those who are superior to them and tries to learn something from them;
followers resent those who are superior to them and try to find chinks in their armor.
Leaders feel responsible for more than their job;
followers say, “I only work here.”
A leader says, “there ought to be a better way to do this;”
followers say, “That’s the way it’s always been done here.”
– Author Unknown
How did you react as you read the poem? Did you see yourself as a leader or a follower? I would challenge you to hold up the mirror, be honest with yourself, and be willing to see the areas you need to improve in the most.
In this poem, the author outlines nine attributes of leadership, they are as follows:
- When leaders make a mistake, they say, “I was wrong.”
- A leader works harder than a follower and has more time.
- A leader goes through a problem.
- A leader makes and keeps commitments.
- A leader says, “I’m good, but not as good as I ought to be.”
- Leaders listen.
- Leaders respect those who are superior to them; and try to learn something from them.
- Leaders feel responsible for more than their job;.
- A leader says, “There ought to be a better way to do this.”
Following are four steps to create an action plan to improve your personal leadership abilities:
- Rank the above nine items from 1 to 9 in the order of priority as it applies to yourself: 1 being what leadership aspect is your greatest strength and 9 being your greatest opportunity for improvement.
- Cut the list down to what you ranked as 7, 8, and 9.
- Look at each item and create a S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measureable, Accountable, Realistic, Time Bound) goal for each.
- Put your Goals into action.
As we grow personally as a leader in our attitudes and actions, we can inspire others to make similar changes. If you are a leader of a team whether at work, school, church, or any other aspect in your life, how nice would it be to have a team of leaders and not a team of followers? A team where members feel personal responsibility and accountability for the outcomes and successes of the team? A team that confronts issues and obstacles with solutions rather than excuses? A team that respects and listens to one another.
If you want to build a better team, ask yourself these two questions: Are you a leader or a follower? Are you creating leaders or followers?