Losing your followers or losing your way--which is worse for a leader?
Can you be a leader without followers or without a purpose? Which is more critical?
My view is a leader is a leader with or without followers. Leaders find a mission—a purpose and pursue it. Followers, by their nature, need motivation, direction and a person & mission/vision bigger than themselves to embrace and…follow. A mission/vision/cause without a viable leader can die a quiet death, but with a righteously invigorated leader to lead the charge, a mission, a cause, takes on a purposefulness that makes things happens.
Leaders evolve and become more visible as they move forward—some famously or infamously, e.g., Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs and Muammar Gaddafi are examples of such leaders in the news today. Reverend King and Steve Jobs inspired their followers, many to be leaders themselves, by their vision and their contribution for making a better world where everyone can benefit more plausible. They died working toward positive ends and motivating others to those ends. Col. Gaddoafi had a different vision—a more selfish one that was based on seizing power and maintaining control through threats, mayhem and rule by an iron fist. He also died trying to achieve that end, to the end.
Losing your followers is not as catastrophic as losing your way—your purpose--your goal as a leader.
Okay, this is a photo of a gaggle of duckings following their mother. For the purpose of the point I'm making it depicts the unfortunate loss of followers who started out following a...leader...and suddenly are no longer in the picture.