There are leaders, and there are followers; this is not a complex idea.  As a matter of fact and by definition, there is no leader unless there are followers.

A leader is someone who has followers. 

There is no need to add adjectives to leader to explain various styles of behavior or levels of performance.  A leader is someone another person has chosen to follow.  It is simple.  A leader is someone who has followers.

A follower is someone who has chosen a leader. 

A follower is a volunteer.  You cannot hire, bribe, coerce, force or enslave someone to follow a leader.  That would certainly not be a leadership/followership relationship.  It is simple.  A follower is someone who has chosen a leader.

What would cause someone to follow another person?  What would cause you to follow another person?

For a leader/follower relationship to form, there must be something that draws them together. Then, there must be something that keeps them together.

Some observers would have us believe that the attraction is the charm, intelligence, personality or persuasiveness of the leader that attracts followers, yet there are multiple examples where this does not explain why the follower is attracted to the leader.

After the follower connects with the leader, what is it that holds them together?  Everyone knows that leaders and followers stick together during bad times as well as good times.  Often, we see the bond strengthened by them weathering the worst and most difficult situations together, so what is this powerful force that attracts and holds followers to the leader?

Every Leader Must Have a Unifying Purpose

The unifying purpose is the basis of the relationship between the leader and the follower.

The unifying purpose is the magnet that attracts followers to choose the leader.  The leader has a purpose that he/she is able to communicate clearly and simply.  The followers see an opportunity to join the leader for the accomplishment of a worthy purpose.  The followers choose a leader with a unifying purpose; a purpose that they want to help the leader accomplish.  The leader’s purpose then becomes the follower’s purpose which is their unifying purpose.

Then, as a leader and followers work together to accomplish the unifying purpose, that purpose becomes the glue that holds them together.  The leader constantly communicates and defines the purpose while the followers create the organization and execute the purpose.  They are bound together during good times and bad because they share a joint desire to accomplish their unifying purpose.  For all of them, it is no longer the leader’s purpose; it is “our purpose.”

Without the unifying purpose, there is no leader; there is no follower.

The unifying purpose joins leader and follower together.

Jimmy Collins

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