It’s an interesting time to be alive and have a fascination with Leadership. I don’t think I’d be going out on a limb here by saying that there’s a bit of a dearth of world leadership these days. While Jacinda Ardern is doing a fantastic job of re-imaging what it means to be a leader in the 21st Century, there’s an awful lot of people who fall into what I categorise as “senior people in positions of leadership”. That translates to “while they might be in positions of leadership, they are falling far short of what it means to be a leader”. When I use that term in relation to managers, I say “senior managers” but, given the last few months of Covid19, I’m not seeing a whole lot of real management in several countries.
Anyway, I digress from the question of “Do Leaders need followers?” I bring this up because having followers is actually a core requirement of being a leader. One might well be in a position of leadership but if nobody is actually following them, are they really a leader? The word “leader” is thrown around so ubiquitously these days, particularly in business, that its easy to forget that to be a leader, you need to have followers. In my book, a “leader” with no followers is a maverick.
So, it’s not enough to just have and share a vision. People need to buy into and believe that the leader can guide them to realise that vision. That’s what it means to be a leader. Being in a senior position just isn’t enough.
How Many Followers Does it Take to Make a Leader?
Which brings us to the question: How many followers do you need, to be a leader? Well, a handful of followers puts a person in the maverick bucket. 20%, 30%, is that enough? I don’t think so. While a leader is never going to please all the people all the time, there needs to be a tipping point of support. There needs to be enough followers that momentum can build towards the vision. That moves us into needing more than 50% of potential followers.
However, anything close to 50% is too close to evens to get the momentum properly going. At around 50%, there are still too many people unconvinced of the leader’s vision and credibility, potentially leading to division and entrenchment.
So now we’re into 60-70% range. At this level, there are enough followers talking positively, about the leader and the vision, to start making a difference. So, not only does a leader need followers, they need a substantial percentage of the potential followers to buy into both them and their message.
Share your thoughts, on what it takes to be an actual leader, in the Comments Box below. Please feel free to Like and Share this post. If interested in what a maverick looks like, feel free to read https://evolutionconsulting.ie/2020/05/26/cummings-leader-or-maverick/