Become a Leader YOU Would Follow

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Nicolo Machievelli said, “It is better to be feared than to be loved.” Have you ever had a leader like that – who “ruled” with fear, intimidation, belittling, or demeaning behavior? Did anyone really follow that leader? Maybe people would “follow orders,” but if “push came to shove,” who truly would follow the leader’s lead? If no-one follows, is the person a leader?

Then, there’s the other extreme, the leader who wants to be loved so much that this person doesn’t make decisions or take a stand. The leader who tells one person one thing and a different person the exact opposite because it makes the leader feel loved. Did anyone trust this leader?

Now consider, have you ever been one of these leaders? How did you become the leader you are today? Are leaders born or are they made?

I am the perfect example of a leader choosing to become a leader. I was not a born leader. I have been made – carefully, painfully, and continually.

When I was a young teenager, I often felt bullied. I have come to realize, that I also bullied the person I counted as my best friend. There are days I am astonished she stood by me when I would tease her so incessantly.

I admired her then. I admire her now. She was quiet. She was smart. She was observant. She was informed and full of opinion. In spite of that, she was only outspoken around people close to her. I wanted to be like her in many ways, but didn’t know how to be like her then.

I’m still not soft-spoken. I have, however, learned some of her skills.

I have learned to observe. I have learned to listen. I have learned to read a variety of books and listen to multiple opinions. I have learned to think for myself instead of following the crowd. I learned to choose who I am. I learned to present myself the way I want to be until I become that person.

Think about your favorite people to follow or be around. What draws you to them? Now, consider your favorite leaders – living or dead. What makes them your favorite? What do your favorite people and your favorite leaders have in common? Are they actually the same people? Are your favorite leaders formal leaders or shadow leaders? How do they influence and guide the people around them? Is it their opinions? Their attitudes? Their way of talking, walking, working, or playing? Do you trust them? Why? Do you respect them? Do you fear them?

At a Toastmasters leadership training on February 25, R. L. Mitchell. Sr. said, “Good leaders create an appetite for more in those who follow them.”  How have your favorite leaders, and your favorite people, created an appetite in you? How can you create that appetite in others?

    • I admit, I love to help people realize their personal potential. As a result, I have enjoyed working to discover my own potential.
    • I love helping people find their personal strengths. As a result, I have had to acknowledge my own.
    • I enjoy helping people realize that their weaknesses do not define them. Naturally, that means that I have had to admit the same to myself. My weaknesses and failures do not define me, they direct me.
    • I now define myself as I respond to my weaknesses, failures, and challenges.
    • I define myself by finding the people who can balance out my weaknesses and failures so my strengths and their strengths help each other. I define myself by my strengths, my joys, my passions, my experiences, the things I can share with others, and what I have yet to learn.

To become the leaders we want to be, we need to understand the leaders we are today. We need to understand our strengths. We need to understand our weaknesses. We need to have people who can help us see both our strengths and our weaknesses clearly. We must be introspective and allow ourselves to become more self-aware. We must learn to see from other people’s points of view. We must learn to laugh at ourselves. We must allow ourselves to cry when we do something we really wish we hadn’t done. We must learn to forgive ourselves and allow ourselves to learn. We must enjoy the journey, even the bumps in the road.

Consider, how do you create an appetite for more in those who follow you? How do you create an appetite in yourself for more? Would you follow you?


MamaRed Knight

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