It is true that every leader was once a follower. Being a leader is not similar to being a manager. Your boss might have the job title, but if he is not inspiring you to do your best or he's not successful in managing his team, he is not a leader. A leader is the first to try new things and create models and strategies that the rest of the people follow. If your boss is always following the guidelines other people have laid out, he is simply a follower. Here's how one can easily tell the difference between a leader and a follower.
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Leaders are at the forefront of trying new things, followers aren't
One of the main reasons behind how an individual becomes a leader is that he took the initiative to achieve the position he is in today. If he had simply waited for a person with a more superior job title to grab the opportunity from below his nose, he wouldn't have been a leader. Everyone has their moments of doubt, but how you put those doubts to rest in your head and go about achieving what you want will differentiate you from the rest. Leaders are innovative in their approach. They are the first to discover and thrive off something new. Any individual who repeats the innovation for a second time is but a follower.
Leaders don't depend on others for their dreams, followers do
You know you are a follower when you're constantly replying on your friends and colleagues to help you take one step closer to fulfilling your dreams. Be it gathering important information or trying a new method to see if it works, followers are hesitant to explore and discover without someone backing them. A leader, on the other hand, does his own research while learning from others at the same time. They don't rely on anyone else to map out their journey to success. Getting inspired by the work of great people is one thing. Never trying something new by yourself is a whole different thing.
Leaders come up with authentic ideas, followers use those ideas
If you know a leader, you'll always find him racking his brains to come up with ideas that have never been thought of before. This is not because they are smarter than the rest of us or have more worldly knowledge. Sure, being well-informed is an advantage, but that doesn't mean that the rest of us can't think of great ideas too. Most leaders have always taken the initiative to come up with indigenous thoughts long before they became leaders and that's what led them to their current position. You might be successful by using someone else's ideas, but there is no success as great as when you think of an original idea and put it to use.
As American football player Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. They are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”