Enough Already…Are you a Leader or a Follower?

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I’ve been seeing a lot of “information” lately about being a leader or a follower. What I’ve come to understand is a lot of mentors, gurus and marketers need you to be a follower. Followers do what they are told. Which means followers will probably spend a lot more money with their “guru” and will implement exactly how they are told. Which means the “gurus” ego can be stroked, so they can capture the followers success and convince a lot more followers to buy.

I’m sorry but I just can’t get on board with that.

I want to play with other leaders. What I know is that leaders make change happen. Followers just haven’t found their own voice yet. So I’m pretty clear its my job to inspire other entrepreneurs, service professionals and marketers to find their voice and shift into being a thought leader.

Now I know not everyone is ready or willing to lead. That’s OK. But my guess is if you are ready my blog you feel it — it’s time to step into being a leader.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a great overview of the difference between a leader and a follower from Inspirational Archive.

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.”

Leaders listen;
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.”

Here’s what I’d add to the list:

A leader uses innovation to create new levels of success,
followers copy what other people are doing to be successful.

A leader recognizes problems and proactively solves them,
followers complain about their problems, staying stuck.

A leader knows they serve the world with their genius,
followers focus on what will make them money today.


Who do you want to be? A leader or a follower? Me, I’m a leader and I love helping others find that leadership energy inside of them. It’s why I’m creating a community of New Era Entrepreneurs (it’s a work in progress so if it’s not up yet don’t worry, it will be soon.).

I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments.

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  • Debbie

    Reply Reply July 26, 2011

    Love the leader claims. It makes me want to follow through on every one of the statements.

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      Reply Reply July 26, 2011

      Let me know how it goes Debbie, we are all rooting for you!

  • Jenene

    Reply Reply July 26, 2011

    I’m with you. Let’s inspire people to find their own voice. Great post Melanie.

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      Reply Reply July 26, 2011

      I knew you would be in. =-)

    • Teresa

      Reply Reply January 4, 2014

      What is a leader with no one to follow? Followers are the muscle that gets the job done. Don’t underestimate the importance or the power of a Follower.

  • Veleta Keyhan

    Reply Reply July 26, 2011

    Love this! I once saw myself as a leader but have slowly become jaded and have become a follower. I love leadership and think that it is powerful and makes a difference! Thank you for reminding me of the difference and shinning a light on our ability to make a choice of wanting to be a LEADER or a follower!

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      Reply Reply July 26, 2011

      I so relate Veleta to becoming jaded. Let’s inspire that leader again — remember we are the agents of change. =-)

  • TR

    Reply Reply July 26, 2011

    There are a great number of folk very comfortable with the “follower” mentality. It’s far more safe a posture and you always have someone to point to when things don’t go as hoped. There’s always an opportunity to throw up your hands and start thumbing through the yellow pages to find the next ego that needs stroking. My suggestion? Don’t drink the Kool Aid. Find what you love to do, get informed. Make solid, personal choices. Go, Mel!

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      Reply Reply July 26, 2011

      Kooi Aid only tastes good when you are really really thirsty. When you aren’t that thirsty anymore, it starts to taste a bit bitter. =-)

  • Lisa

    Reply Reply July 26, 2011

    Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, intended or not so much….

    One of my all time favorite books is Primal Leadership which speaks to the different styles of leadership.

    What I find incredibly interesting is the opportunities that are available online today for any individual to have a voice, and be a leader and inspire others.

    Every single one of us is acting in a leadership capacity to someone. One of the key differences is self awareness – are you aware of how your activities impact other people.

    Every time I get asked to speak, one of the messages I always try to convey is when you type something on your computer or smart phone – you are sending a message to humans, real people with thoughts, ideas and feelings – you are not just talking to a computer or a website.

  • Carolyn Herfurth

    Reply Reply July 26, 2011

    Thanks for spouting off about this, Melanie.

    I’m tired of watching certain so-called leaders who work to keep their followers “down” in order to serve their own self-interests… and lulling their followers into a “keep following” state of mind.

    Keep doing your great work to develop leaders!

  • Julia Kious Zabell

    Reply Reply July 26, 2011

    Love it Melanie! And agree with so much that I am guessing I don’t need to get into…

    What I do want to get into is the inbox-overload that seems so prevalent right now for most of my clients (OK, I know I get it sometimes too!)

    We’re all so busy following a million people, we forget to put our heads down, erase everything from everybody else, and simply create!

    I call it the “concentrate on what I know rather than what I don’t know.”

    That’s what a leader does, right?!! And then uses their voice and skills to get it out there.

    (Of course, come up for air and great blog posts every now and again too!)

    • Julie

      Reply Reply July 26, 2011

      Julia, I love this! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself to quit watching and reading everything that comes across my inbox, Twitter, or whatever, and just focus on what I know.

      This is something that I think most of us need to remember in this information-overload age. We should never stop learning, listening, watching, and evaluating. But spend too much time there, and we never move forward and create and make our own mark.

  • Kerri Salls

    Reply Reply July 26, 2011

    Thanks for posting this. I haven’t seen this leaders vs. followers list in about 10 years. I used it in an ezine back then. I love it. It’s so true. I too work best with leaders out to make their mark, not followers who want to be co-dependent.

  • Well Melanie,
    i think you are way off-track on this one.
    Everyone at some time is a leader and a follower.

    How you describe followers is one of an incompetent person.
    First of all 80% of what gets done in a business is done by “followers.” Including you as you figure out what people want and respond well to them.

    So lets re-work this a bit.
    When leaders make a mistake, they say, “I was wrong.”

    When followers make mistakes, they say, “It wasn’t my fault.”
    A competent follower will say, oops can you help me with this.

    A leader works harder than a follower and has more time;
    a follower is always “too busy” to do what is necessary.
    An effective follower prioritizes her/his time.

    A leader goes through a problem;
    a follower goes around it and never gets past it.
    An effective follower jumps in to work with the leader to deal with problems.
    Actually a great leader-follower operates on the basis that the more successful a company become, the more problems there will be to play with.
    A leader makes and keeps commitments;
    a follower makes and forgets promises.
    Nope. A great follower keeps her/his promises, or if s/he can’t she let her.his co-workers know in lots of time.
    Leadership & followership are like the proverbial horse & carriage – ya can’t have one without the other.

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      Reply Reply July 27, 2011

      Jim, thanks for expressing your insight into leaders vs. followers.

      I think it might help if I clarity one thing. We aren’t talking about “workers” per se, we are talking about mindsets.

      I totally agree with you and Roy that in order to lead there has to be someone following. But I’m talking about people who follow blindly, copy other peoples work because they don’t have their own voice, and simply are just showing up in a lazy fashion hoping to get rich.

      So maybe this is more directed to the “self employed” crowd.

      Thanks for bringing up your point cause I would not have thought to clarify it otherwise!

  • Those are great statements. However, one other key fact must be recognized: There are no leaders if there are not followers. The difference between a leader and a great leader is that the great leader attracts followers who want to make a difference, but lack the GPS to lead the way.

  • Julie

    Reply Reply July 26, 2011

    Thanks, Melanie, for the great post. I’ve always been a leader. Your words reinforce for me that I still am. As sometimes happens, we stop listening to the leader inside us, and we doubt or we drink others’ Kool-Aid.

    I know that I need to keep working on finding my voice in my business today, and to step out to share it in a bigger way. Thanks for the reinforcement!

  • Kelly O'Neil

    Reply Reply July 31, 2011

    Mel, LOVE what you wrote! We should definitely connect. In March I wrote about this on my blog (http://kellyoneil.com/blog/2011/03/a-call-to-action-on-international-womens-day-and-an-announcement/) and I am getting ready to launch the Women’s Leadership Academy.

    The more women helping others step up in their authenticity and find their voice the better!

  • Barbara Saunders

    Reply Reply January 30, 2013

    I find the modern use of the term “leader” quite misleading. In my view, leadership implies having some sort of actual authority or command over other people. I am a writer. I hope to influence people. Do I LEAD those people – not at all! They have no accountability toward me. I may have intentions for what they do with the ideas they share, but I don’t have a specific agenda for their behaviors or actions.

    I’m not sure what the term should be; maybe there’s already one that escapes me. The wise person knows when to step back and follow a leader whose scouted a good course. She also knows when to step forward and lead. In addition, I’d argue, she knows when to simply ask a question, offer an opinion, or share an observation with no directive goal. Perhaps the word for this is simply “artist”!

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