Power to the follower

Does everyone have to be a leader?

Greta McLaughlin

On elementary-school report cards, there are comments about how a child is “developing to be a good leader” or “needs to work on being a better leader.” College applications emphasize the necessity of obtaining leadership roles in order to demonstrate your prowess and then ask you to write essay after essay on examples of your leadership in both a formal and informal sense and how you will use that in the future. This future presumably includes you being in a leadership position.

It seems that our whole educational lives are based on the idea of becoming a leader. Society as a whole is permeated by the idea that everyone needs to be one in order to be of value to the world and reach his or her full potential. Being a leader establishes a person’s importance and purpose and is indicative of resoundingly positive traits that supposedly guarantee a lifetime of success and fulfillment. However, what people fail to consider is that if everyone is a leader, then who is left to be a follower?

The truth is, not everyone is a natural-born leader. Some people are gifted with the ability to organize and execute, guiding a group of people to achieve a common goal with ease. They don’t think twice about their actions, and their ability to lead is almost effortless.

In the same sense, there are others who prefer more focus, are better at just following instructions, or even enjoy more hands-on work rather than management positions. They may not be the ones who are leading the charge in a political movement or taking the position as the CEO of a company, but their work is just as essential, if not more essential, than the top dog. They are the backbone of society, the ones carrying out all of the behind-the-scenes work while the manager maintains order.

It’s just like in a newspaper: You need editors, but you also need writers to make it work. Without writers, there is no newspaper, and they are perhaps as integral to the whole operation as their bosses. These individuals may not be “leaders,” but they none the less play a significant role in producing a final product.

This disparity between leaders and non-leaders is what makes society strong. Not everyone can be an alpha, but that does not mean that those who are low- er on the ladder are less intelligent or less well-suited for the world. Not everyone is suited for leadership, but that is an important part of human nature.

Perhaps, instead of shaping children into being the best leaders, people should focus on shaping them into the best versions of themselves, leader or not, because every role in society matters.