A funny thing happened to me recently. I received an invitation to join Instragram, a social media site I hadn’t yet signed up for. I decided to give it a whirl to see what it was all about. So I created an account. And that’s it. That’s all I did. I didn’t upload a photo or share anything.
To date, I have 51 followers.
I’m flattered, really, that these people think I’m worth following — and that they’re willing to follow me without seeing any posts from me. But perhaps their willingness is partly because a lot of them are my friends on Facebook, so they’re following me on Instagram based on my reputation there.
It’s good to be followed, but it’s big responsibility to lead. Following is easy. You can just go with the flow. But followers need something or someone to follow, so leading can be a big deal — and a huge undertaking. And risky. And scary. What if a leader wants to lead but isn’t followed?
My husband and I have been binge-watching seasons of “Survivor,” and we see that time and time again: people who want to lead but aren’t followed. If no one’s following, it’s pretty tough to lead.
What makes a leader worth following?
There are many views on what makes a good leader. Different people have different ideas of the best characteristics. I believe an effective leader displays four main traits:
1. Reliability. A leader must be able to be trusted. He or she needs to be consistent so that followers know what to expect. Someone who is dependable easily gains the respect necessary to lead others.
2. Good communication. Followers don’t always like to be left in the dark. They like to feel valued, and one way to show them their value is through keeping them informed. Oftentimes, it’s better to overcommunicate than to undercommunicate.
3. Open-mindedness. A good leader knows his or her opinion isn’t the only opinion. To lead others who have different thoughts and perspectives requires an openness to the ways they see life. Just because they view things differently doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
4. Humility. Although confidence is an important leadership quality, no one wants to follow someone who’s egotistical and uses a position to his or her advantage. A leader who stays down to earth and approachable will have a truer, more appreciative following.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"