The Real Leader is… He Who Follows.

The phrase might be “follow the leader“, but there is no leader without followers.

Do you recognize yourself when people talk about leaders and leadership? Many people don’t, especially when the focus is on inspiring others, crafting a compelling vision, being charismatic, or other similar things.

We need to get beyond such narrow descriptions of leadership to its real essence: Simply put, leadership is about getting things done through others, and by others that is, followers. The phrase might be “follow the leader”, but there is no leader without followers. Although the leader needs the guts to stand alone and take the first leap, it is the first follower who transforms that lone-wolf into a leader.

And when you see it that way, every single one of us is capable of leadership. The trick is to pick the right strategy to influence others to do what we need them to do.

Here are a few low-key but effective strategies that you can add to your leadership toolkit:

  • Bring in “experts”: Find and share resources and quotes from well-recognized experts who support the direction in which you would like to take your organisation or group.
  • Follow: Recognize those whose ideas and values are similar to your own, and who find it easy to speak out, and support what they say. This idea is really well illustrated by the “First Follower” video published by Derek Sivers: Watch Video here.
  • Give to get: People will be more willing to do something for you if you have already done something for them. Find out what is important to others and help them achieve it. When your turn comes to ask for their support, you will have a better chance of being successful.
  • Walk your talk: Before we follow someone, we have to trust them. And there is no bigger trust-buster than saying one thing and doing another. Your own personal integrity can be one of your most powerful leadership attributes.

There is no one-size-fits-all in leadership: You have to judge each situation on its own merits, and pick the strategy that is best suited to that particular context. Having a variety of leadership tools will help ensure that you can lead from wherever you are.