Being a follower is easy. You just have to do what you’re told to the best of your ability and stick to the status quo. Being a leader is a much more difficult task. You have to think outside the box to solve problems, and push yourself to your absolute limits. Some people are born leaders, as they’re never happy with just being “good enough,” and will always look for ways to improve themselves and everyone around them. If you can honestly answer these questions in the affirmative, you should consider yourself a driving force for humanity. And be proud of it!
1. Do you go above and beyond?
Like I said, followers are happy doing exactly what they need to do and nothing more. Leaders, on the other hand, push themselves as far as they can, regardless of whether they truly need to or not. Back in school these people were the “go-getters” that spent their time perfecting their projects while everyone else was happy doing just enough to receive a passing grade. A good leader is the reason an organization will not only succeed, but will absolutely flourish.
2. Are you optimistic?
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This isn’t to say that followers are necessarily pessimistic, but they also don’t share the same optimism as leaders have. Followers often only perform “good enough” because they are unsure of whether or not they actually can do better. Leaders know for a fact they can always improve their abilities and skills, and they know others can do so as well. Not only do leaders push themselves farther, but they also hold their colleagues to a higher standard.
3. Are you open to change?
You would think that followers, by nature, would be easily adaptable to change. However, they often are adverse to any deviation from the norm, opting rather to do things “as they’ve always been done.” Leaders feel free to steer in whichever direction will lead them to the most beneficial outcome. This may include charting unfamiliar waters, but leaders are comfortable and confident in their ability to do so. As country music legend Jimmy Dean believed, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
4. Are you decisive?
Of course, as leaders are open to contingencies occurring on the fly, they also have no problem making decisions and sticking to them. Followers are often stuck in the “what if” stage of contemplation, which blocks them from ever actually making a move to further themselves. Leaders know that, regardless of the decision they make, both positive and negative outcomes may occur. But they’ll also be able to navigate through any bad situation they face, as they’ve anticipated it from the get-go
5. Are you accountable?
One of the main reasons followers are so indecisive is they don’t want to be blamed if something bad happens. Leaders will never shift the blame to their colleagues or team. But they also won’t shut down when they make a decision that turns out to be the wrong one. They’re okay with failing, because they learn from their failures in order to better handle similar situations that arise in the future. Followers who blame everyone else for their own shortcomings will continue to make the same mistakes time and time again.
6. Are you passionate?
Followers are just along for the ride. They aren’t really bothered by the job, and don’t care whether they do well or not. Leaders put enormous amounts of effort into everything they do in life. They perform even the simplest tasks with precision and care, because they know even small tasks add up to have a huge effect on this world. They take pride in their work, and are careful not to waste the gift they were given.
7. Are you intrinsically motivated?
Bob Dylan once said, “What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” Followers might try to rationalize this and say, “Easy for him to say, he’s a millionaire.” But he wasn’t always rich. He became rich by doing exactly what he wanted to do, and putting every ounce of his energy into being the absolute best he could be. Leaders don’t follow money. They follow their passion, and are rewarded by being great at what they do. Ironically, the richest people in the world, more often than not, make money follow them rather than the other way around.
8. Are you willing to learn?
It’s a sad truth that many people graduate high school thinking they’ll never have to open a book ever again. Like I said, followers are just along for the ride. Leaders are life-long learners, who feel like a day without reading or trying something new is a waste of 24 hours. Many followers think they know all they’ll need to know in life to survive; leaders understand there’s an infinite amount of knowledge in this universe, and it’s impossible to know too much. That doesn’t stop them from trying, though.
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