Follow the leader

While I hate assigning things to people and telling people what to do (because I feel bossy), I’ve realized something: I’m not really a follower.

All my life, I’ve followed people around and “went with the flow” in an attempt to be easy and just fit in, but in all honesty, I really despise doing that. I hate teamwork, too. I can’t stand to work with others, and I’m not very good at it — and you know what? SO WHAT? WHO CARES? I don’t play nicely with others.


I said it.

I said the thing everyone tells us NOT to say to anyone growing up, and the world is still standing. It hasn’t fallen or exploded or anything of the like, and life is still the same as it’s always been.

I don’t play nicely with others, and I’m not one who enjoys sitting on the sidelines watching someone else do things I could probably do better. I don’t see it as envying someone, and I don’t always think I’m better at something than another person in the same field with similar skill, but sometimes I do think I’m better at something than that other person in the same field with similar skill. I think it’s okay. It’s not like I indirectly talk about them on Twitter or anything (I don’t).

I just think that maybe there are leaders who are better as followers and followers who are better as leaders. “Leader” is a rather heavy term that can mean so many responsibilities, but those responsibilities don’t necessarily have to be everything in a particular setting.

Maybe a leader is a teacher who has someone else decide the curriculum.

Maybe a leader is a boss who has someone else manage everything for them.

Leaders and their responsibilities vary far and wide.

Maybe I’m not the only one unknowingly participating in a charade.

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Comments on this post

Agent Q’s gravatar

Honestly, this whole leader-follower binary poses a problem in and of itself. It’s really about the title vs role vs weights of each function that corresponds with that role. Yea sure, those “in the higher position” take charge of the managerial functions, but who’s really turning the wheels? The dualistic assumptions actually operate inter-dependently, therefore telling people to “follow the leader” as a way to fit in while disregarding “the followers'” significance really undermines the significance of cooperative learning.

And you’re hearing this from someone who intends to work for the Navy in the years to come. Ironic much?

Hiro’s gravatar

I do okay in groups, but I hate it. Because I feel like nothing ever gets done, and like you, when things DO get done, I feel like I could’ve done it much better, and much faster. I’ve been president of a student organization in college, and I delegated jobs… They never got done, so I ended up scrambling around trying to get everything completed (which it didn’t, because hi, I have my own crap to do, and some things are officer-specific, like treasurer needing to do his treasurer thing but he never did, so we didn’t have any money). I do everything on my advocacy organization because when I ask the other people to do anything, it never gets done, or something goes horribly wrong. But mostly, it just never gets done. :/ I’d much rather do everything myself, and know I’ll get them done…

Robin’s gravatar

I think the whole idea of being a “leader” can be overrated. After all, you can’t be a leader if you don’t have any followers to lead. And as you said, how can people such as bosses be true leaders, when all of the real work is managed by lower-level associates?

Liz’s gravatar

That’s not what I meant — I meant that leaders can be different kinds of people, but not everyone is meant to lead, even if they’re the boss. There can be a leader who oversees everything but doesn’t actually manage everything in order to get it to work — like an assembly line. However, it takes a leader to get such a thing going and to make sure it keeps going and works, as well as making sure everyone does their job.

And I think it’s also possible to be a leader without followers just as possible as it is to be a dancer without being able to dance.

Jess’s gravatar

I wouldn’t say I’m a follower, either. I always have really strong positions and often times find myself taking the lead – be it in group work for uni or organizing a night out. There’s nothing wrong with knowing you’re a leader, though, ’cause chances are if you know that’s your strength, you’ll do better anyway.

Raisa’s gravatar

I think I can only be a follower if I respect the leader, otherwise it just annoys me when they’re trying to tell me what to do. Unfortunately I don’t respect a lot of people at work so it’s pretty stressful sometimes.

I can only be a leader if I’m passionate about the project though. I guess for me it’s highly flexible. Or maybe I just don’t like working with people (this is more likely).

Valerie’s gravatar

Yes! This is me exactly. I feel like I work better alone all the time. Just tell me what you want done and I will get it done.

Don’t give me a team and have me delegate, don’t put me in a team to work with, and don’t micromanage me. I feel like I can get it all done by myself and my way. Working in groups drives me crazy! I hate relying on other people to get their part done in a way that is acceptable to me. Half the time they don’t but I can’t ‘change’ it without upsetting someone. I hate the whole team dynamic.

I’m not a leader either. I don’t have the personality for it and I accept that.