Followers Repress, Leaders Inspire

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

-John Quincy Adams


Leadership doesn’t have anything to do with titles, social status or college degrees. And while there are innumerable definitions on what exactly a leader is or what he does, there’s really no official job description.

You know an effective leader when you see him or her in action.

Perhaps Harry S. Truman summed it up best: “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

Take a look around. You’ll find unmotivated followers everywhere in life.

Leaders, however, stand out.

Are you one of them?

There Are Leaders, Then There Are Followers

In Entrepreneur, author Travis Bradberry offers up a checklist so that you can discover for yourself: are you a leader…or a follower? Some of his questions include:

Can you make decisions? Followers hesitate for fear of doing wrong. Leaders make a decision, even if it may not be the right one.ID-100199943

Are you flexible? Leaders seek improvement, are fluid in their thought process. Status Quo identifies the follower. They’re not motivated to do better, since they’re happy as is, where is.

Optimistic or pessimistic? Followers see the bad in situations, without recognizing potential benefits. Leaders see possibilities, growth, and new opportunities.

One of my personal favorite quotes comes from Rafael Echeverria, Ph.D.: “Leaders are people who normally declare possible what other people do not. This is precisely what makes them leaders.”

What Skills Do Leaders Possess?

Probably one of the most important traits of a leader is her ability to inspire people. Peter Economy writes that leaders inspire by envisioning a goal and helping people understand how to get there. A leader supports people so that they’re willing to stand up for themselves and take risks, to offer new ideas.

Leaders have confidence in themselves and integrity. Their communication skills are top notch. They’re not afraid to make decisions. And as Lydia Dishman in Fast Company writes, leaders are “focused, decisive, engaging, fearless…”

But are these traits seen differently in men and women?

Male versus Female Leaders

While all of the traits listed above are identified with leaders, oftentimes in men they’re seen as a plus, but in a woman…not so much, according to Dishman. She cites the story of Jill Abramson, who was let go as the first female executive editor of the New York Times. Even though she oversaw a staff that won 8 Pulitzer Prizes in less than four years, she was labeled stubborn and pushy.

Most political leaders and Fortune 500 CEOs are men, according to Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. in Psychology Today. Yet Riggio writes the world would be better if the leaders were women. He says it’s simple.

“Most of our leaders fail…CEO tenure is very short, and most are fired for poor performance,” writes Riggio. He cites studies by Dr. Alice Eagly, a gender and leadership scholar that found women are more likely to possess the leadership skills associated with success. “They care more about developing their followers, they listen to them and stimulate them to think ‘outside the box’, they are more inspirational, AND they are more ethical,” asserts Eagly.

Share Your Leadership Story

Women indeed possess the necessary skills to take on leadership roles. Yet despite strides in education and other areas, women still lag way behind men when it comes to obtaining leadership positions.

What obstacles did you encounter as you attempted to garner a top job? Statistics are great facts, but let’s hear your personal story. By sharing what we’ve experienced, perhaps we can pave the way for more women to enter into leadership roles.

The specific definition of what a leader is may vary widely – but most people would agree that successful leaders have at least one thing in common, and that’s confidence. Gain the tools you need to build your own confidence levels by signing up to receive my FREE confidence series right here!

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