True leaders create leaders, not followers

Some people believe that leaders need followers. We disagree. 

We believe that:

True leaders create leaders, not followers.

When times are stable, aligning the organisation around the vision of a single person or small leadership team provides focus and momentum. One person can do the thinking and the rest can simply follow. Like a supertanker, this enables all the resources to head in the same direction, at the same speed, at the same time. And all can be controlled by a single hand on the wheel.

But when times are churning, the ability to adapt becomes paramount.

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

An organisation whose ability to adapt is less than the rate of change in the marketplace will inevitably get left behind.

The ability of an organisation filled with followers to adapt is limited to the capacity of a single individual or leadership team. On top of this, followers need to be told what to do. So an organisation filled with followers creates extra workload for the leader, reducing their capacity to handle change. And when the pace of change includes technology, customer needs, suppliers, competitors, legislation, the economic environment, and climate all happening at once then a single leader or even a small leadership team can easily become overwhelmed. 

The single leader becomes a bottleneck. And the organisation cannot keep up with the marketplace.

But leaders who create more leaders increase the ability of each person to change. And that increases the capacity of the organisation to change.

Leaders who create more leaders transform their organisation from a supertanker into a fleet of speedboats.

And that makes the people and their organisations, antifragile: able to use change to become stronger.

Do the people around you encourage leadership or followership? Which do you encourage in others? Six months from now do you want to be surrounded by more self-directed leaders or followers?

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

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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)

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