Leadership Haiku: Why Do They Follow You?

by  Mary C. Schaefer  |  Self Leadership

“I see you ahead of me.

You see me behind.

Where are we going today?”


Whether you subscribe to the notion of leaders having “followers” or not, let’s consider this: What do others trust your leadership, i.e. why do they literally follow your lead?

Someone has to be first.  Someone has to have a vision worth following.  You can certainly be sparked by others’ ideas, ask for their input, allow others to influence you, but at some point you find yourself in the position to be the leader, to be in the lead. 

What does it take?

Someone needs to articulate an idea, play with it, engage and rally others, whether that was your original intention or not.

When you think about someone you have been willing to follow, what was going on?  Maybe something like this:

  • Their vision spoke to you.  It touched you in some way.
  • They took the time to answer your questions.
  • You got the sense they understood your position and had your best intentions in mind.
  • You knew there were risks, but trusted the leader to take the risks with you, or have your back.
  • They showed trust in your own resourcefulness and competence.

To go where?

You don’t even have to be a leader in title, or have a task to accomplish, to lead others.  You can lead others simply by being yourself.  The heart of this is your commitment to your values and your consistency in demonstrating them.

Even if you are not a leader in title, when others see you routinely acting in alignment with your values, perhaps a value they admire or aspire to, you are leading them.  They like hanging around you.  They want to make themselves better because of the model you set.

Do you realize that?  Be open to the possibility that others are inspired by you, being yourself.  Also, know you don’t have to be perfect. Though you may want to appear like you have it all together, people who matter don’t mind a little vulnerability.  They are much more attracted to someone they relate to because of struggle or redemption than those for whom it appears things came easy.

All for what?

It’s not so others can ultimately remain followers, but so they are invigorated and willing to demonstrate leadership of their own.

How will you inspire others today with your leadership?

Note: Haiku are short poems that use sensory language to capture a feeling or image. They are often prompted by an element of nature, a moment of beauty or a poignant experience. Adapted today for a discussion of leadership.

Image: Member “Public Domain Pictures” at Pixabay.


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About The Author

Articles By mary-schaefer
Speaker, coach and trainer Mary Schaefer’s expertise is in creating work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive. She is a former HR manager. Find out more about how Mary helps managers empower themselves to make the most of their human resources with this special collection of articles selected for LCG readers:  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Lynn Ferguson-Pinet  |  17 May 2013  |  Reply

Thanks for the post, I think its very important to make people of conscious that its their actions that define leadership qualities and results, not title. Having people realize that by day to day effective actions they can lead others to overall better results as a team. I’ll put more focus on this during my team debriefs.


Mary C Schaefer  |  19 May 2013  |  Reply

Thanks for your comment, Lynn. Showing your leadership by planning to focus on leadership with your team!

Mary C Schaefer  |  19 May 2013  | 

Thanks Felino.

felino goro  |  18 May 2013  |  Reply

I guess it comes from a sharp reflex that you’ve got at least ‘ 85-90 % sustaining germ’ collated from your esprit d corp, the mobilty where imagination trips intelligence considering budgetary and time management with industry and housekeeping …sharing vision of a pass-on leadership

Mary C Schaefer  |  19 May 2013  |  Reply

Thanks Felino.

barry zweibel  |  18 May 2013  |  Reply

// My kudos to you / Using Haiku poetry / To talk leadership //

(More of my Leadership Haiku at:

Mary C Schaefer  |  19 May 2013  |  Reply

Thanks Barry for the haiku in response. Fun!

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