Do you prefer to lead or be led?

Whether we have given this much thought or not, many of us are leaders; in our place of work, in ministry/voluntary work, in the home.  We make decisions; quick ones and those that require days or even months of deliberating.

The more confident of people are happy to take the lead when situations arise. They may not have the answer but they are willing to work towards finding a solution. We all know that one person who always rises to the challenge – perhaps it is you!  The less confident of people will stand back and allow others to make decisions or find solutions as it is means they are not required to do anything. This is likely to be a result of having a lack of confidence and/or being struck with a condition called laziness.

Throughout the day we are make decisions consciously and sub-consciously.  Deciding what to wear,to cook, what time to go into town.  Even choosing to do nothing is in fact a decision!

I often joke to my husband when we are planning family holidays that I have absolutely no interest in self-catering accommodation. I want to be fully catered for and why not? In my day-to-day life I am making decisions at work, church, running the home, rearing young children, cooking until it goes out of fashion.  Whilst on holiday I only want to think along the lines of;

“What am I going to eat?”
“What am I going to wear?”
“”What excursion are we going on today?”

Surely this is why people holiday – for a break!

Back to taking the lead, it comes naturally to some and others have to work hard at it. If you observe a group of young children playing or working on a project, you will without a doubt spot one or two that take the lead. When my daughter attended pre-school she had a good friend who was rather similar to her – strong headed. They were like two peas in a pod when they got along and spent the remainder of the time at loggerheads.  This was inevitable since they were both of strong character.

Unlike my daughter I was far more introverted as a child. I knew my own mind and always have done but was quiet with it. I have had to work on taking the lead, often deliberately stepping up in situations in order to develop my skills and offer my contribution. I take on opportunities which push me completely out of my “safe” zone and the results are usually positive. My confidence grows each time whilst self-doubt reduces.

To end, ownership means you resist “passing the buck”, it means accepting you have a part to play in finding a solution, it means you can be relied on when the challenges come.

Do you take the lead? Is it second nature to you or an area you have developed?

How would you encourage someone who struggles to take the lead?

What would you advise someone who takes on too much ownership, stepping on toes in the process?

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20 thoughts on “Do you prefer to lead or be led?”

  1. I actually find it uneasy to work under someone else’s command; unless that person is a real visionary or well wisher.
    I believe before leading a group one should form a good relationship with the members. The logic is ‘If they love you, they will gladly follow you’

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  2. I can be a leader as well as a follower.I think when I’m in my comfort zone, I’m much more likely to lead. And when I’m in new territory, it is much easier to follow. For sure, some people are more natural leaders than others. But it is a skill that can be developed. I think that was my biggest challenge when I started my own business. I knew that there wouldn’t be anyone to follow but myself, so I was really going to have to push myself to step up.

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  3. I think it depends for me on whether I take the lead or the backseat. From my experiences, I do tend to naturally take the lead, especially if it is on something I am confident in. However, if it is something that I am not, then I am happy for the most knowledgeable and confident people to pave the path.

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  4. I can comfortably fluctuate between being a leader and being a follower, it all depends upon the situation in which I find myself. While I work, I would say I’m always a leader and like Marquita, working to get the folks under me to excel, in my personal life sometimes it’s relaxing to kick back and let someone else be in charge. Sometimes. I don’t think being a follower means that a person is lazy, we simply all have different strengths.

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  5. People often look to leaders, thinking of them as someone who is superior in personality.
    I have found, it is not the leadership of these people, but how good are those who follow their orders.
    You cannot lead, if you have no one to follow you. The best leaders have the best people under them.

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    1. William – I do feel that those who lead (not manage) effortlessly have a certain style about them; whether it is charisma or the ability to make people feel good about themselves and as a result get what they want from them.

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  6. Phoenicia — there is always the question, “am I a leader, or follower?” I’m a leader by nature and an extrovert, an ENTJ in the Meyers Briggs personality type. But it is not necessarily bad to be a follower. We also need managers who have special skills to carry out a leader’s vision.

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  7. Hi Phoenicia. I think I am a born leader. I credit part of that to my father, who, too, was a leader in every aspect of his life. I love being a positive conduit of change and helping others learn and grow.

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  8. Well, as you know, I’m also an Introvert, but I’m very comfortable with leadership roles. I’ve managed departments as small as half a dozen people, and projects overseeing hundreds of people. For me, it comes down to leadership style.

    My approach has always been to build leaders within my teams and have no problem sharing the limelight. That doesn’t work for everyone, but I’m proud of the successes of many of the people I’ve had the privilege to lead over the years.

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    1. Marquita- building leaders is the way forward. This way you are taking others along with you rather than micromanaging. A leader certainly must be secure enough to allow others to receive praise and recognition.

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  9. Do keep in mind that only a small percentage, approximately ten percent, of people are leaders. To lead is not to decide what to do but to make other people want to do what needs to be done without telling them to do so. It’s a skill that the majority of people will never develop. They will merely be able to manage people.

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