The Fear of Being a Leader


Leader or follower

Are you a follower or a leader? This questions is fairly common. You will hear it at school, job interviews, and other similar situations.

However, it still through me off when a coworker questioned me about it yesterday. Instinctively, I wanted to say “follower.” After all, I fear controversy and do not want to make anyone upset. Being a leader means you often have to make choices that others might disagree with or even argue. That is certainly something that I am skilled at dealing with or understanding.

Yet, when I thought about it, some of my instincts have been leader-like my whole life. Still, these seemed too “bossy” or “annoying.” Thus, I have tried not to give my opinions or say what to do for most of my teenage and adult life.

There is something terrifying about being a leader. You are supposed to be quick thinking while making wise choices, considerate of others without fearing their opinions, and optimistic while still realistic. How do you balance all of that? That is a great deal of pressure!

Maybe some of that is the reason why I fear being a leader. Plus, if you say that you are a leader, people hold you to higher standards. Slacking off if not nearly as easy. Suddenly, you have responsibility to take ownership for and manage.

However, being a leader probably does not have to be so scary. Yes, it takes work and effort. That does not make it impossible.

My coworker’s simple question made me realize that I might be more a leader than I ever realized. That still frightens me but not as much as it did in the past. Maybe the responsibility is not as extreme as I had imagined. After all, being a leader does not mean that you must be perfect. You simply must be willing to learn from your mistakes and continue to grow.


6 thoughts on “The Fear of Being a Leader

  1. MEM says:

    …quick thinking while making wise choices, considerate of others without fearing their opinions, and optimistic while still realistic. How do you balance all of that?…Sounds like you have a good understanding of what it takes to be a good leader!

  2. Jay says:

    I’m a natural leader and think being a follower – giving up some of the control – is the scarier thing for me. Luckily it takes both kinds of people to make a team work. And having “followers” with some leader tendencies is a GOOD thing, makes for a stronger team when the individuals are well-rounded. So I think maybe you have the best of both worlds!

    • Thank you! I actually want to write about following too. There is a stigma about being a follower; some people label that as weak. However, being a follower certainly is important in certain situations. We cannot all be going our own way and not listening to each other.

  3. MEM says:

    I am a fairly strong woman with some decent intelligence, if I may publicly claim. Adding in my two cents to Jay’s comment above, I would rather follow almost any day rather than lead…it is a more natural part of my personality to allow someone else to set the pace and goals and then I have a lot of ability to help the leader succeed. For example, I took piano lessons for 10 years and my preference was to be a strong accompanist to soloists or a chorale rather than to give my own recitals. And as that accompanist, I covered MANY mistakes that the soloists made!

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