Did You Play Follow the Leader?

Did You Play Follow the Leader?

As a child growing up, did you play follow the leader? It was a playground game where one kid was designated the leader and the other kids had to follow and do what he did. If he went down the slide, everyone went down the slide. If he climbed the monkey bars, everyone climbed the monkey bars and so forth. Ever remember when the kid no one really liked very much was the self-appointed “leader”? Game over, right? Why did no one follow “that” kid? Was it true early on that he was not a leader?

A leader by definition is (Noun) a person or thing that leads; a guiding or directing head of movement of a group. The dictionary makes being a leader sound easy. So, why did the game end? Reality is being a leader means way more than our dictionary leads us to believe. It has nothing to do with a title but a mindset. A leader and a manager are two completely different things. Can you lead without a title? Can you manage without being a leader? The answer is absolutely, we see it daily in businesses, usually bad businesses. A manager runs his team through fear and intimidation. There is always a threat, spoken or silent, that not doing a good job has consequences. His team is stressed out, has a high turnover rate and a very unhealthy work environment. His team members turn on each other with a “dog eat dog mentality”. Certainly not some place I would work. A leader, leads from the front. The leader leads by example. He never asks the team to do some task he is not prepared to do or has done successfully. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave. He constantly sacrifices for the good of the team. There is no intimidation, the leader sees the opportunity to coach the member up to a higher standard. The team wants to perform at its best because of its leader not for fear of failure.

With this being true about the leader, he or she must acquire the following traits. The leader is proactive, adaptable, passionate, enthusiastic, reliable, honest, be trustworthy, have self-control, be consistent, respectful, a great communicator from both listening and speaking and most of all willing to put the needs of others ahead of your own. The leader understands in order to lead, he or she must have some type of likability, or pleasing personality, in order for those team members to follow him or her and build a successful business or group. People tolerate managers and they gravitate towards leaders long before they receive their title. The leader asks not for a title but an opportunity to excel. The leader gives instead of taking from the group or team. By giving, the leader understands the dividend of good that shall be returned to him or her. Leaders can always spot another leader, for better or for worse. Leaders are rare and should be well taken care of in order to prosper from their leadership.

So, as a child, were you ever the natural leader in follow the leader or did you work at it?

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”—John Quincy Adams

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Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 28 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.

23 Responses to Did You Play Follow the Leader?

  • I definitely developed those skills later, as a child you always had someone to follow, if they we’re an adult.
    Being a leader even as an adult is no easy task. In order to be a succesful leader, people have to believe in you.

  • I”ll add that teachers for example tgat are picked on and have ro discipline students are not good leaders, if the same students are not picking on all the other teacher’s equally.
    The punks , the bullies, who had good grades who always got into trouble at school. Seemed to be a lot of times (not always) the best leaders later in life. Now why is that ?

  • William, those are great points. I was not a natural leader either. I had to develop those skills as an adult. You are correct, it is very difficult being a good or great leader, it is a constant learning curve. I believe it is possible to be a bad leader as you pointed out, however, those leaders or most are managers struggle and fail their whole lives without developing the skills of a good leader. I appreciate you sharing those thoughts.

  • This is a great article, thank you for sharing. I feel like I can honestly say I’m a Leader and proud to be able to say that.

  • Leona, thank you for your kind words. I have no doubt you are a LEADER.

  • Great blog post Tim Wilhoit! I like your writing style!

  • Kari, thank you for your kind feedback, I really appreciate it.

  • I try to have these qualities. Being a leader is not just bossing people around .It is all about setting the example so others may follow. You need to balance being a follower and being a leader and to know when to do one or the other or both.

  • Gilda, I absolutely agree, a good leader does know when it is time to lead, to follow and to get out of the way. Thank you sharing.

  • Looks like we all see things similarly. There is nothing worse than someone trying to rule over others and be a tyrant. Those kinds of people create problems. A true leader is a problem solver first and then can direct people, develop them and then move out of the way. Those you develop always come back..

  • It’s a shame corporate America does not always see it this way, but I could not agree more. Glad to see there are others that have the same leader philosophy that I do. Let’s make it a great day!

  • Tim, I love the post. You are a gifted writer and you have great insight!

  • Just reading your article makes me feel inspired. Thank you.

  • I like the definition which states that the difference between a leader and manager is that a manager has the ability to enforce their viewpoint, whereas a leader doesn’t need it.

  • Great points! And I love the visual analogy of “follow the leader” in the playground. It’s true, people will fall in line behind a true leader and they will want to do well out of respect for their leader. Bad business can almost always be traced back to bad leadership.

  • I have had both leaders and managers as bosses, guess which ones I worked harder for:) This is true for both the paid and unpaid environment. The volunteer world works the same way.

  • Barbara, it is true whether in business, schools, churches, organizations or groups, you can always quickly tell the difference. Thank you for sharing.

  • A true leader will get their hands dirty with you, rather than telling you to! I agree that all of this is true in and outside of business. Thank for the post!

  • Enjoyed the post, thank you.
    Be the best that you can be and achieve your goals whilst guiding and assisting those around you to also achieve their goals – win win for not only the individuals but also the organisation they work for.
    A great start to my day !

  • Leeanne,thank you for your kind words. I am glad you enjoyed my article.

  • This is great. Thanks for Sharing.

  • Great blog, Tim. Thanks for sharing.

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