True leaders create more leaders, not followers

A woman shows a girl how to use a telescopeSome people say that in order to have leaders you must also have followers. But The Churning, Inner Leadership says:

True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.

Followers are dependent — they need to be told what to do. Creating followers brings additional workload for the leader. It creates a pattern of dependency that leads to stagnation, as the organisation’s capacity to change reduces to the capacity of the single leader. The leader becomes a bottleneck.

When times are stable, creating followers can make sense. It aligns everyone behind the leader’s single goal. But when times are churning, the ability to flex and adapt becomes paramount.

To survive in times of change, the organisation’s ability to adapt must be greater than rate of change in the marketplace.

Leaders who create followers reduce the capacity of the organisation to adjust.

Leaders who create more leaders increase the capacity of the organisation to change and to grow. They increase its resilience and agility.

This brings a new issue: how to coordinate the different parts, which of the multiple opportunities to pursue. But this is a good problem to have — especially compared with the alternative, which is stagnation. And if the new leaders are true leaders (who also create more leaders) then it is an issue that is relatively easy to deal with.

Leaders who create more leaders expand their ability to create results at a distance. They increase their own capacity as people and the results they are able to achieve. And they increase the ability of their organisations to succeed.

That means, the more leaders the better.

Inner Leadership is a framework, with tools, for creating more self-directed leaders.

Do the people you work with encourage you to be a better leader or a better follower? What do you encourage in the people around you? Which approach will serve you better over the next 24 months?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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