True leaders create leaders, not followers

A woman shows a girl how to use a telescopeSome people believe that in order to have leaders you must also have followers. Inner Leadership disagrees.

We believe that:

True leaders create more leaders, not followers.

Followers are dependent — they need to be told what to do. This creates additional workload for the leader. It builds a pattern of dependency that can lead to stagnation as the leader becomes a bottleneck, reducing the organisation’s ability to change.

When times are stable, this approach might make sense: it aligns everyone behind a single way of understanding the world.

But when times are churning, the ability to flex and adapt becomes paramount:

To survive in times of change, the organisation’s ability to change has to be greater than the rate of change in the marketplace.

So leaders who create followers reduce the capacity of their organisation to change: both in the capacity to implement change and the capacity to find new ways forward.

Leaders who create more leaders increase the capacity of the organisation to change and to grow. They increase its resilience and agility.

This brings a new issue: how to coordinate the different parts? Which of the multiple opportunities to pursue? But on the one hand this is a better problem to have than stagnation. And on the other, if the new leaders are true leaders (who also create more leaders) then they will know how to prioritise their multiple opportunities.

Instead of being a single supertanker under a single captain, the organisation becomes a fleet of speedboats.

Leaders who create more leaders, aligned with their purpose and values, expand their capacity to create the results they want and their organisations’ ability to succeed.

Inner Leadership is a framework, with tools, for creating those leaders.

Do the people you work with encourage you to be a better leader or a better follower? What do you encourage in the people around you? Which approach will serve you better over the next 12-24 months?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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