During your lifetime of on average 80 years, you will meet other people and will have three choices. You can lead them; you can observe them or you can follow them.
Lead, observe or follow
Do you want to lead and leave traces in the hearts and minds of other people? This is applicable from your family members to people whom you will not even meet in person? Or, do you want to just observe the world around you and choose not to participate in common endeavours? Finally, do you want to follow great leaders and contribute to shared goals?
Whatever you choose to do, you will most probably experience all three behaviours (to lead, to observe or to follow). That depends on the circumstances and variables like situation, age, position, skill, intelligence, group, values, personal preference or others. You might even decide not to choose anything, but you will still end up leading, following or only observing others. Imagine a kindergarten teacher leading kids in her school in the morning and then observing a fight from the bus on her way home and finally following a choir conductor on her late-night rehearsal. The choice of leading – observing – following might not even consciously cross her mind, yet she did all three. Therefore, it is important to learn more about leading and following even if you have no leadership ambitions whatsoever because you will be engaged in all those activities.
Present followers are future leaders
For those who have ambitions to lead and want to leave an imprint and influence the lives of other people, to learn more about leading and following becomes of paramount importance. If one has an even higher ambition to become not only influential but also an ethical and conscious leader with honesty, moral courage, vision, compassion, care, fairness, intellectual excellence, creative thinking, good timing, aesthetic sensitivity, selflessness on the one hand and effective leadership, on the other hand, learning more about leadership is a must.
Today people work in multiple teams with a leadership role in one and a follower role in another. Future leaders might be followers at present. One should lead or follow or observe depending on the context but what is needed in all cases is the understanding, skills and internal motivation to act ethically. Conscious Leadership course at Alfred Ford School of Management is a place to practice it safely yet effectively.