You think for yourself, you initiate and pursue values, you’re good with people, you’re always trying to learn more, and you’re passionate and committed to everything you decide to do. You inspire people by your example. You don’t have a leadership title and you don’t have formal followers.
Are you a leader?
I would argue that in the most important sense, yes, you are.
The first person who needs to be lead effectively and in the right direction is your self.
Deciding what to do, how to do it, and then getting it done may sound like the normal and ordinary role of every person, which in fact it is; but the majority of people unfortunately can’t, don’t, or won’t do it.
Far too many people are passive, unthinking, unreasonable, apathetic, and bored. They go with the flow, follow the crowd, do what they’re told, and spend their lives surviving, not thriving.
Independent thinking, the most vital attribute in leadership, and a learnable skill no matter what your IQ, is a rare commodity. When was the last time you heard of a school that teaches thinking skills to children? Right, me neither, but they should.
So the answer is no, a leader does not need followers per se. Anyone who displays the essential attributes of leadership is a leader in my book, with or without “followers”.
NB: The converse of this is that having followers does not necessarily make you a good leader. More on this in a future post.