Do you Lead or Follow?


Have you ever heard this phrase before? It is a triad of possible roles that an individual can take in every situation. Each member of a team or organization either consciously or unconsciously chooses one of three roles. They can lead or follow. Unfortunately, some just get in the way.

The first time I heard the phrase was when I was in the Air Force. I found it to be a silly saying that had no real meaning. To me, it sounded like something people said to try and sound smart or something they said to show they are in charge. It wasn’t until years later that I understood and appreciated the phrase.

Through much intellectual and professional growth and maturity, I learned that that three types of people exist in the world. They were leaders, followers, and those who are in the way. Throughout my career, I have worked for organizations with people in each category. I learned that to be an effective member of a team or organization; you must either lead or follow; those who get in the way are counterproductive and unnecessary.


Contrary to popular belief, being a leader has nothing to do with a job title or position. It has everything to do with the person’s use of formal and informal leadership skills that are needed to develop a vision. A leader must communicate the organization’s vision to its members, acting as a role-model by embodying the vision, and creating short-term objectives that are compatible with that vision. The leader must act in a manner that is professional and ethical, and he or she must create an environment where members feel valued and appreciated.


Being a good follower is as important as being the leader. As a follower, you play an important role in the implementation of the leader’s vision. I have heard over the years, that to be a great leader, you must also be able to be a great follower. We cannot always be the leader, but instead, at times we must take the role of the follower for things to happen. I believe that you gain leadership skills and traits by being a follower and being in the shoes of those you might lead in the future. Without an understanding of those you lead, you will never be able to gain the respect or understanding of those who follow you.

A perfect time to be a follower is while we are learning a new task. I know we all way to do things on our own and many of us (including me!) take pride in being independent. That is all well and good and is considered a great trait. However, this same trait can get in your way of moving forward.

My Case Study

The example that comes to mind as I am writing this is that my journey into blogging. I was bound and determined to figure everything out on my own. Afterall, I am a professional writer/editor and I have an MA in Management and Leadership so this should be EASY PEEASY! Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. While I already knew how to write and I was able to figure out quite a bit of setting up the blog, got stuck after that. I had no idea how to do marketing or how to get my blog out to readers (the reason I am writing). I was stuck and stubborn for a YEAR! My Ego was getting in the way of me asking for help.

I Found the Answer!

A couple of months ago, I found another Air Force Veteran who is a very successful marketer. I began watching what he was doing and asking him questions. I transitioned from a leader to being a follower. Slowly, I was developing my SEO knowledge and list-building skills. He recommended that I take 30 minutes out of my busy schedule to watch a webinar that would change the way I do business. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a skeptic, but I decided it was only 30 minutes so what the heck.

This webinar was amazing! I finally found what I was missing. This program and the mentor could teach me how to properly set up a blog, build lists, and so much more! I have learned marketing strategies that I thought only the big boys would know. I have been plugging away at the training and interacting the in the FaceBook group (these people are awesome). My confidence levels have skyrocketed, and I have been having fun! I have discovered that being a follower isn’t all that bad and is at times absolutely necessary if you want to move forward. 🙂


In life, we see people who are leaders or followers as well as those who seem to get in the way. People who get in the way choose not to lead or follow but instead slow the progress of a group that is working toward a goal. If you choose not to lead or follow, then get out of the way and let those who are contributing to the mission do their thing; make way and yield to let others work toward their goal. If you complain and don’t have a solution, then you are probably part of the problem.

Recognize what role you play and be aware that if you are not leading or following, GET OUT OF THE WAY!

I found that using a planner helps keep me on track with my business and personal life. You used to have to go to the bookstore to find them and they were very expensive. Well, not anymore. You can pick up a beautiful planner online without paying an arm and a leg. Best part of it is you can use it over and over again! You can learn more about planners right here.

    3 replies to "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!"

    • Matt ward

      Great perspective Diana. Keep up the good work

    • David W Shoup

      Pretty straight forward, I like that. I too have found myself determined that I could do things my way and succeed because after all, I have been writing all of my life. Not professionally, but writing just the same.
      I do agree, if you aren’t leading or following, you are a hinderance.

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