Anyone is capable of becoming a leader, but not everyone is cut out for leadership. That doesn’t mean they’re less capable of making an important contribution, just that they bring a different set of skills to the table.
There’s nothing wrong with being a follower–the world needs them as much as leaders. There’s a balance to everything. The trick is knowing which role you’re best qualified to fill.
Here are some traits that may show you might be more comfortable following than leading:
1. You have to work to control your emotions. The best leaders have emotional intelligence; they may feel things deeply but they’re emotionally strong and stay in charge of their feelings. Followers are more reactive with their emotions, while leaders are more responsive.
2. You like the middle of the road. Successful leaders have strong convictions and are bold in their beliefs, while followers are less committed to ideals. Followers get out of the storm while leaders stand strong against it.
3. You’re set and rigid in your thinking. Leaders may be headstrong and determined, but they also know when to be flexible and agile. Followers are more inclined to stay on the set course come what may.
4. You’re averse to risk. By nature, followers are more cautious than bold. Leaders combine big dreams and action; they leap into situations where both the payoff and the risk are substantial. Followers watch and take notes; they move more slowly.
5. You’re not high in self-confidence. Leaders tend to be decisive, opinionated and self-assured. Followers are more likely to see limits in their abilities and put more faith in the judgments of others.
6. You’re not particularly results-oriented. Leaders like to have a definitive plan and a blueprint for getting results–a bridge between goals and accomplishment. Followers like to have clear instructions that allow them to focus more on their individual corner of big picture.
7. You favor a scattershot approach over focus. Successful leaders are all about discipline, focus and getting things done. Followers are more comfortable with distraction–they’re skilled at putting things down and picking them up again later.
8. You’re not communicative. Leaders are often good speakers and patient listeners who enjoy bringing people together and motivating them. Followers tend to be more introspective and less communicative.
9. You don’t look too far ahead. Leaders are almost always characterized by a clear vision for the future and sharing that vision with others. Followers either focus on the moment or sign on to a leader’s vision.
10. You’re more about the nuts and bolts than inspiration. An important quality of a leader is to motivate and inspire others. For followers, that kind of thinking doesn’t come naturally at all.
Both leaders and followers can be equally driven by their desire to make a difference. And it’s not a clear distinction–most of have elements of both sides, and one or the other may come to the forefront depending on the situation. You don’t have to be in charge to be influential.