There is an old proverb that states, “he who thinks he leads but has no followers is only taking a walk.” For all of the books, articles, and seminars on the topic of leadership, one would believe that it requires some form of magic or unique charisma. The truth is that following others is a natural human characteristic. The problem is that the inherent programming to “follow” doesn’t include an equally inherent set of standards on “who” to follow.
Psychologists have devoted a great number of hours to understanding the human follow response. What is clear is that there is a natural tendency to use the behavior of others as a short-cut to decision making. Some of these experiments are as simple as having one person stand on the street and stare at the sky-in which the vast majority of passerby’s will mimic the behavior. In more advance studies, a person sits in a room that fills with smoke. When paired with “confederates” who don’t react, the majority of participants remain in the room until the environment becomes unbearable. Other experiments have people on the street following another person through an elaborate layout of roped stations, although none of them have any idea why they are following or what is to be the final destination.