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How to Know if You are a Follower or a Leader?

June 19, 2017 in Leadership

Leaders vs Followers

Leadership is not a designation. It’s a manifestation of certain qualities. And, no matter what you do in life or what your job designation is, you’re a leader if you have leadership qualities.

But, how do you know whether you’re a leader or a follower? Let’s take a look at the key attributes that differentiate leaders from followers.

Going beyond what’s needed

Whether you go beyond your regular duties or just feel satisfied once you’ve completed them is one of the best tests to determine if you’re a leader or a follower. Good followers follow orders and do what is needed of them. Finding a good follower with the right ethics is difficult.

But, it’s even harder to find a good leader, who’d not only accomplish the assigned task but also go way beyond it to contribute to the group, team, or the organisation they’re a part of.


Leaders are flexible. They manage change efficiently and also encourage others to change. Followers usually show stubbornness and resist change. This is where leaders play a critical role in changing not only themselves but also their followers.


In your daily life, including professional life, you’ll face several unexpected challenges. At times, you’ll have to deal with ambiguity and take a call. This is where leaders act differently from followers.

They are decisive and take the responsibility when things go wrong. Followers tend to seek approval for every decision.


Confidence is closely associated with decisiveness. Leaders are confident of their decisions even if they may go wrong. They believe in their skills and abilities. To the contrary, followers need constant reassurance and support from their leaders to realise their potential.

Followers require external support for gaining confidence, while the leaders gain confidence from their inner strength.


Leaders will always stand up for what they believe in. They have a strong conviction to stick to their decisions even in adversities. It is not always the case with followers, who change their decisions to please their superiors.

As a leader, you will have to stand firm if you believe that you are right. Firm conviction is a mark of a leader.

Pleasing everyone

You can’t please everyone every time. A leader knows it. A follower doesn’t. At times, you’ll have to say no and displease people. But, it’s always better to stay focused on the things that help you reach towards your goals.

Leaders don’t fall into the trap of people pleasing, especially if it takes them away from their objectives.


Real leaders are humble. Followers focus on accolades and recognition, whereas leaders focus on goals. They don’t brag about their achievements or accolades as these are only small milestones for them.

Humility is also essential as it enables leaders to adopt a level headed approach, which further helps them to think clearly.

The above qualities define the differences between a leader and follower. To check whether you’re a leader or follower, introspect and measure the presence or absence of these traits.

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