Followers Are a Reflection of Their Leader

By December 9, 2019 No Comments

***This article is inspired by chapter 9 of John C. Maxwell’s book Leadership Gold –
“To See How the Leader Is Doing, Look at the People.”***

Author Max Depree once said, “The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers.”

That is really good news for you if your followers are doing well. However, if you are frustrated with the performance and quality of your team members, the first place to look is in the mirror.

It is very easy in the hectic pace of day-to-day work to neglect developing your people into high-quality leaders that will help your organization grow and advance. However, don’t let busyness be an excuse. In our generation, busyness is something that must be navigated. There’s always more to do. As leaders, we must become highly intentional with our time.

One key effort must be developing your people. If you want to have a high-quality organization, you must have high-quality people. You’ll only go as far as your team members will take you and they’ll only go as far as their leader(s) will take them.

In order to assess the state of your followers, ask the following four questions:


1 – Are the people following?

John Maxwell says it this way – “All leaders have two common characteristics; first, they are going somewhere; second, they are able to persuade other people to go with them.”

Are your people truly following you or are they simply going through the motions of doing their jobs?

Have you given them a clear vision of where you are heading so they can follow you toward that goal or vision?

Clarence Francis said, “You can buy a man’s time; you can buy his physical presence at a given place; you can buy a measured number of his skilled muscular motions per hour. But you can not buy enthusiasm…you can not buy loyalty..you can not buy the devotion of hearts, minds or souls. You must earn these.”

If you are going to grow and advance your organization to the level you desire, you must give your people a reason to follow you. Become the leader with whom they want to go after a big vision.

2 – Are the people changing?

Progress doesn’t occur without change. Change is often difficult. Most people hate change until it produces a result that they like or benefits them.

In order to see change occur in your organization, you must become a change agent. You can’t force anyone to change. You must give a clear vision, inspire your followers to go after the vision with you, and equip them for the task. People need a guide to lead them to and through the change process.

Commit to being an agent of change by helping your people understand WHY change is needed and HOW it can happen in a way that everyone wins.

3 – Are the people growing?

Dale Galloway said, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of a leader.”

As a leader, your job is much like a gardener. You must consistently nurture your followers, pull weeds of weaknesses, fertilize their growth, and make sure the soil that they are planted in is healthy. If a plant or crop is left unattended, it will not produce its full potential.

If your people are the same today as they were a year ago, something must be corrected if you want different results. Too many leaders allow busyness to squeeze out their development time with their followers. Helping your team members grow should have a consistent designated place in your calendar.

If your people aren’t growing, it’s often a reflection of your lack of intentional effort. People must want to grow, but leaders must make it a non-negotiable and then facilitate the process. Invest the time to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your followers, then help them develop a growth plan that they can be held accountable to implement with your guidance.

4 – Are the people succeeding?

Success can be defined in a variety of ways for any organization. However, if your followers aren’t producing desired results, they are not succeeding.

Do they know what success looks like in their roles? Is it clear to them? Are they held accountable to achieve those results? Have they been equipped to be successful?

Many leaders expect specific results from their followers, yet never clearly communicate their expectations. It is unfair to your followers to expect something from them without them understanding what those expectations are.

Your followers want to succeed. Success is an internal motivator. When they are succeeding, they will have more energy, enthusiasm, and focus. When they are struggling, their production will go down and their motivation will diminish.

The success of individuals, teams, departments, and the overall organization is the leader’s responsibility. Think of this from a sports analogy – if a team struggles to win, who is fired – the coach or the players? Most often, it’s the coach! Yes, players must take responsibility for their performance, but it’s the coaching staff’s job to get the most out of those players. If your team is not performing at an optimal level, it’s time to take a hard look in the mirror and ask the following questions:

“What am I not doing that is holding our people back?”

“What can I do differently to help the team win?”


Leadership is not for the weak. Leaders must assume responsibility for their followers’ success.

Refuse to expect more out of your followers than you do from yourself. Refuse to expect from your followers what you have not equipped them to do.

Choose right now to be (or become) the leader that your people need so they can produce the results that you want for your organization.

You can become that kind of leader.

I believe in you.

Until next time…make today GREAT!

***If you need help developing a personal growth plan or implementing a leadership development program for your team, please contact me. I’d love to talk with you to determine how I can help!


Leave a Reply