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Would you rather lead or follow?

July 6, 2009

I went to a bookstore over the weekend and as usual, while looking for stuff to amuse myself, I found myself at the management guru section. One of the books I flipped thru was entitled The 12 Secrets of Effective Leadership. Or something like that.

Perhaps my fingers were itchy because there’s a question I’ve always wondered about – are leaders happier than their followers? I also wonder if there are aliens out there, fyi.

The question flashed thru my mind again when I saw a kindergarten schoolteacher trying her best of get all her ducks in a row outside the mall.

The kids were having a blast, spilling from the schoolbus and running all over the parking lot in their colorful caps. The teachers (2 of ’em) were frantically trying to round up the little brats. Reminded me of a rodeo I saw in Arizona once. What a hoot to watch. 😀

Finally after lots of shouting and gesturing, everyone marched in a single file, excited, with two exasperated looking teachers moving them along.

Like the schoolteachers, my profession requires me to play a leadership role. Sometimes leaders have to sacrifice short term happiness for long term happiness. Followers have it a little easier. They just wait for orders and do as they’re told. Nothing much to worry about.

Goal-wise, both are after the same thing – happiness, just using different routes. Followers have other people making the hard decisions so their minds are free to dream of other things. Leaders get a kick out of exercising control and making the decision for others.

So you get attracted to whatever turns you on. One thing I do know. Leaders have leader problems and followers have follower problems. Neither role is without problems.

But the end result is the same – happiness.

So given a choice, which would you rather do to get your kicks – lead or follow?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2009 1:17 pm

    You can actually do both at the same time in the corp world. Of coz not in the case of kids. Ever heard a saying from Bill Cosby “Give me 200 active 2-year-olds and I could conquer the world….”

    Yes, we may be department heads but we still have to follow the dictates of the big boss and the client. What I meant was would you be happier leading or following. I notice everyone dreams of being top dog – even the guy with the phobia of responsibility – but not everyone appreciates what it takes to get there.

  2. July 6, 2009 4:06 pm

    to be a good leader , you gotta be a good follower first 😉

    I know a naturally bossy guy who’s a miserable follower, always arguing with his supervisor at work. His solution? To quit and be his own boss. I don’t know if he’s good leader (his staff seem afraid of him) but he gets the job done. So I guess it depends on what you mean by a “good” leader.

  3. July 7, 2009 2:37 am

    Well , my best training was working under a sh*tty boss/leader ..

    and now i just do the opposite of what he did to me . I hope my workers think that i am a nice boss 🙂

    That’s usually how it works. Just imagine, without your shitty ex-boss to motivate you to leave you might not be where you are today. 😀

  4. July 7, 2009 8:39 am

    I think there needs to be a balance. Even as a leader, you don’t have to be a leader 24/7. Sometimes, it’s best to give opportunity to your followers to take the lead.

    Conclusion, as a leader, you can be a follower too….and once u’ve given others a chance to lead, u better make sure u become a good follower. Else, nothing will work out.

    Agree. Some leaders who rise up solely through seniority (often meaning too incompetent to lead) will be happy to let their underlings take charge, usually under the pretext of “proving yourself capable.” On the opposite, I’ve yet to meet an aggressive leader who isn’t a control freak. Their way is simple, “Do as you’re told, don’t argue with me.”

  5. July 8, 2009 8:27 am

    Those aggressive leaders are afraid of few things
    – ppl taking over their place
    – things will go out of their ctrl if they allow others to lead
    – ego

    those 3 are enough for these leaders to become a long term control freak. and these leaders will suffer if their biz screws up and they need to ask for a job outside.

    Haha, yeah few things are more pathetic than a control freak looking for a job. 😀

  6. July 8, 2009 12:19 pm

    In one of my earliest jobs when I was still wet behind the ears, I had one boss who told me: “You either lead or be led”. I always think he was wrong. You can lead without being bossy, and you can be a cog in the wheel and still take decisive actions that are independent of bossy bosses.

    I like to remember this little message posted in a kid’s playhouse: “Nobody acts big, nobody acts small, everybody acts medium.”

    Unless one is a total recluse, everyone gets a chance to lead every now and then.

    Haha I saw a bumper sticker version that said, “You either lead, follow or get out of the way.” Yeah it oversimplifies life as though its either black or white but I believe these sayings are more meant to sound cool than be realistic. 🙂

    Apart from everyone being occasional leaders by design or accident, I think people generally choose to be one or the other. I still can’t forget someone I knew who was absolutely terrified of responsibilities (more like she can’t deal with the possibility of failure.) She wouldn’t want to lead if she had a choice and she’s quite happy being led.

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