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Ten Common Differences Between Leaders and Followers

Everywhere we turn we hear about traits of what real leadership is.

Whether on our Internet feed, in magazines, or even on TV and the movies the misconceptions and differences between leaders and followers vary greatly.

Ten Common Differences Between Leaders and Followers


Sure you likely have a boss and assume being a leader comes with the title. Many of us confuse leadership with following the herd or maintaining the status quo. Real leaders have factors that differ them from the said herd and make people want to follow them.

Let me break it down for you, here are a few ways:

1. A leader leads by example a follower depends on others.

If there is not a set path a true leader will blaze new trails to reach their goals. A follower will remain idle until given explicit directives.

2. A leader depends on his courage, a follower struggles to find a spine.

To lead others you must be decisive and willing to make the hard decisions. People want to follow those that command authority. Wishy washy leaders are usually followers in wolves clothing.

3. Leaders have enthusiasm and are ready to get the job done. 

People are drawn to excitement and enthusiasm, a leader motivates and inspires their followers.

Followers are more ho-hum with a slight Eyeore syndrome.  Someone who is a bore or slow to act will likely lose followers and rather follow instead.

4. Passion drives leaders farther than even their own expectations.

Followers are rarely passionate about anything that would set them apart.

When someone gives it their all and then calls up more ire inside. They put their heart on the line to lead themselves and others. Passion seeps from their pores as they lead the charge. Unlike the followers that stand by the wayside so not to be caught in the wave of passionate frenzy.

5. Truth will set you free indeed.

Leaders that serve with honor and no deceit will many follow.

Followers can follow the untruths as they have no compass to give them direction.

Many times we have seen leaders fall from grace due to lies and cheats. All the while they tumble into oblivion their followers still sing them praises. A real leader leads out of truth and lives in the light. Followers will follow no matter what story is told.

6. Social Boldness is vital for a good leader to own.

Whether it be in the board room or the golf course, knowing how to remain cognizant of their surroundings is key. They are thick-skinned and aggressive is their decision-making.

Followers many times fall for the social nuances that end up on Facebook at 3 in the morning. Falling for the mainstream culture that lacks the stamina to lead effectively.

7. Self awareness is a vital component for a leader as they need to understand their own strengths and weaknesses.

In doing so they will be able to align team members that complement them rather than be like them.

Followers are like birds they flock together. Creating a team of like-minded people will create group thinking. Group thinking is cumbersome and usually does little towards progressing to the task at hand.

8. Leaders possess ingenuity, once they have the task at hand they are capable of strategizing on the fly.

Once they have a plan they are able to quickly get moving towards the end goal.

Followers on the other hand require step by step direction and at times even hand holding. The coddling and extra effort required detract from resources and interferes with progress.

9. Leaders are humble enough to ask for help and advice.

Being able to recognize your own weaknesses allows the leader to seek out appropriate mentors as well as team members.

Followers would rather fake it till they make so not to appear weak.  Usually they will hide behind the credit of others in order to cover up their shortcomings. Where they lack in humility usually unwarranted arrogance takes its place.

10. Leaders act without fear, they are willing to take the necessary risks to take the challenge head on.

Fear only adds fuel to their fire as they push forward.

Followers panic when things get tough, they are ready to throw in the towel as soon as things don’t go right. They will seek support ans assurance every step of the way and even then are ready to turn and run away from fear of failing.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list of comparisons. It should give a good idea for distinguishing leaders and followers. Many positions are filled by people over their depth, yet have no idea where the balance is. Followers can be leaders and leaders followers, it is up to us to decide the difference.

Now its your turn: Are there any other differences that stick out that I missed? I would love to hear them, please share below and join the conversation.

About Charles Johnston

Charles is a Christian, husband and father of fur-kids who shares his walk with others in hopes to help other's along the way.

One Reply

  1. Candace Crosby

    Excellent article, and one that has beneficial pointers to improve oneself.