What a leader is not

OppositesWhat is the opposite of a leader? What word comes to your mind in response to that question? Pondering what something is not can help one better understand what it is.

Would the opposite of ‘leader’ be ‘subordinate’? ‘Direct report’? No. Leadership is not found on an org chart.

Is it ‘follower’? I say no. Many of the qualities of a good leader are also qualities of a good follower. And both are moving together towards a vision.

Is it ‘victim’? Not in terms of someone who gets knocked down, but if they stay down and take a victim mentality then they are the opposite of a leader. A leader steps forward to make a difference in life. A person who plays the victim sees life as something that happens to them.

Is it ‘bystander’? If not the opposite of a leader it at least describes one who is the opposite of a leader. A bystander isn’t even following, they’re drifting through life. They’re on the sidelines at the end of the bench with their earbuds in. Leadership is not passive. A leader is in the game.

What it comes down to is that I can’t think of a single word that fits perfectly as the opposite of ‘leader’.  But then I’m not seeking a word as much as an understanding. That’s why I would love to hear what you think. Can you think of a word that’s the opposite of ‘leader’?

“Leadership exists when people are no longer victims of circumstances
but participate in creating new circumstances.”
Joseph Jaworski

Image: scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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