Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Goldens

Conventional wisdom says the world is divided into Leaders and Followers.

It’s also commonly said that any group can’t exist with only Leaders (too much fighting over jurisdiction) or with only Followers (nobody to lead the way).

I think there’s a third group that falls somewhere between the Leaders and Followers. And these people are pure gold.

The Goldens are a group who are happy to lead but are equally happy to follow if an acceptable Leader steps up.

I guess you could distinguish a Golden from a Leader in that some Leaders are only happy if they’re leading. It’s kind of like driving. Some people must drive the car because they hate the lack of control when they’re a passenger. These types of Leaders are NOT Goldens.

On the other hand, you can distinguish a Golden from a Follower because no matter how a group might be flailing about in the breeze, a Follower will not step up to lead. The Follower might notice the disorganization. Might even be able to recognize the need for leadership. However, a true Follower will not lead.

I’m involved in a bunch of groups/organizations from Boards, professional committees, civic and political committees, interest groups, committees for activities my kids are involved in, etc.

I constantly watch the dynamics in these groups and it’s gotten so that now I can pretty quickly determine who in the group falls into which category.

The most successful of the groups I’m involved with are comprised exclusively of Leaders and Goldens. Better to have Goldens than Followers because you can lop of areas of responsibility and delegate them to a Golden and THEY WILL GET DONE. Not so with a Follower. In the Follower’s case, unless we’re talking a single discrete task, it will usually require a bunch of reminding, prodding, etc. of the Follower to make sure the task gets done.

What constantly amazes me though is that you can have someone who is the most base Follower you can imagine in one context, and then find that the same Follower is a Leader in another setting. I don’t get it.

I mean, you can’t lead unless you’re willing to take on the responsibility of making sure something happens.

Followers don’t do this. They can sit around all day until there’s someone to follow.

But when someone you know is a Leader joins your group and then just sits around, or worse, allows deadlines to be missed or tasks not be accomplished, I just find it shocking. I mean, how can their “Leader” side let things fall to pot?

I’ll take a Golden over a Follower any day. Goldens have enough Leader in them that when they’re assigned a task, you just know it’s going to get done. It’s almost like doing it yourself.

If you’re part of a group, aspire to be a Golden.

They’re pure--, well, you know.

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