Not long ago, I watched a group of ants mark out a new path across a room. They moved in one line, following each other sometimes jaggedly, but with the leader out in front setting the course ahead while the rest followed her.
You may wonder why I refer to the leader as ‘her’. It is because female ants are usually the workers and move around looking for food.
I was mesmerized by how they followed their leader, who occasionally picked up the pace leaving the rest at a distance, before they caught up to continue with the march. It seemed like the leader was mapping out an invisible track which the rest of the ants were expected to memorize. Wherever an obstacle was encountered she would double back or take another track sometimes causing a ‘traffic jam’ because her followers duplicated her every move.
A Leader, like John Maxwell would say this is, “one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”. This little ant tale says to us there must be a way for one to lead, and consequently for people to agree, buy-in, and follow. People always want to see (not just listen) and understand the way in which they will follow, and this is the major role of the leader.
The ants diligently followed in the footsteps of the leader, because they were being shown the way. However, when the leader stopped for a while they climbed on top of each other, seemingly lost and confused until she gave them new way. Likewise, people follow Leaders who have a vision and can show the way. It is interesting to know that, like ants, people follow their leaders by observation too. They emulate what their leaders do, sometimes even to the dress code!
A few years ago, I went to a church where the pastor’s wife wore body stockings. You would be amazed at how the ladies in church followed suit. This makes it imperative that leaders remain convincing and live what they say or believe in.
John C. Maxwell puts like this, “What we say accounts for only 7% of what is believed. The way we say it accounts for 38%. But, what others see accounts for 55%!”
When Leaders interact with other people, they are always doing one of two things. They are being watched by both their people/teams and other people too, so basically they are always either increasing their influence or decreasing it. In other words, their choices make them who they are.