Despite being newer to your career, you can still consider yourself a leader. You may not have held a significant leadership role; however, the interviewer is referring to your character and nature as a leader vs. practical experience. Robin Sharma says 'Leadership is not about a title or designation. It's about impact, influence, and inspiration. Impact involves getting results; influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work.'
With that said, keep in mind that it is not a negative thing to be a follower. You may not be the person to take charge of a situation or command a room, and that is okay! A good follower is good at following directions and working hard to accomplish tasks. Rodger Adair says, 'A follower shares in an influence relationship among leaders and other followers with their intent to support leaders who reflect their mutual purposes.' A follower is an incredibly vital role to play.
Both have great qualities. Depending on the role, it may be more critical for you to instigate solving problems and creating innovative solutions, or it may be more important to get the work done. Share some of your strengths to show you have qualities in both categories.
"My role as a leader or follower depends on the situation. I am good at listening and following directions, but I am also great with people and working as a team to solve problems. I would say I have qualities of both, and I know I would rise to the occasion if given a leadership opportunity."
"I prefer to be a leader when it comes to my projects at work. I am a take-charge type of personality; however, I am easy to coach and mentor as well."
"I can be either a follower or leader. I am fluid based on what is appropriate for the situation. I want to be a successful manager which means taking note of the words of my team but being a strong enough lead that I can implement the required steps to get to the end goal."
"I will say that I am both a leader and a follower, taking my stance as it's appropriate in each situation. My leadership skills and skills as a follower both utilize my great abilities as a listener, problem-solver, and innate supporter of others."
"At this point in my career, being just out of high school, I would say that I follow the lead more often than I take the lead. I am a sponge and ready to learn from those more experienced than I. With that said, I can be a leader when the time is right."
"Growing up, I was always the captain of my sports teams, leader of the debate club, and in University - a tutor to struggling students. I naturally take on a leadership role, but I do know when to take a step back and learn from others."
"As a teacher, I will most certainly be a leader. I need to take the lead in the classroom and show my authority in ways that are kind yet express to my students that I am the alpha. With that said, I can be a follower in situations involving my personal life. For instance, I volunteer in my spare time which requires me to take direction from others."
"It depends on the situation. I am good at listening and following directions, but I am also great with people and working as a team to solve problems. I would say I have qualities of both, and I know I would rise to the occasion if given a leadership opportunity."
"In my current school, I am the president of the social committee. I love that I have the opportunity to encourage student engagement while being a positive influence on the culture at my university. I am a natural leader because I start with leading by example. As a leader, I make myself available to others who need mentor-ship, a bit of assistance in adjusting to university life, or just a listening ear when they've had a tough day. I am confident in my leadership abilities when it comes to my career as an optometrist."
"I see myself as a leader. Not only have I managed a team of learning leaders in two prior roles, but also I believe that leadership does not always equate to management. I am sure to lead at all times by providing the best model of enthusiasm and work ethic. I am open to new ideas and love to tackle a new project which, to me, embodies leadership."
"I consider myself a leader because I am someone who likes to help others. While I understand the importance of listening to others during the job, I am a strong person who wants the best product to come out possible and assuming the role of a leader in the audio engineering department will help that happen."
"I consider myself a strong mix of both a leader and a follower. I know when to listen and follow direction and I can easily step into a leadership role when it's required of me. When it comes to my patients, I am certainly more of a leader as I want them to view me as an authority when it comes to their health."
"I believe that honesty is important no matter what job title a person holds. I have found that being honest with people creates an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Those qualities, I feel, are essential when building rapport with patients and co-workers."
"I'm regularly requested by my supervisor to be the lead on many new client intakes. My most recent lead role I had was forming an Alcohol and Drug support group for our community. It has been going strong now for six months. I consider myself as someone with leadership capabilities and characteristics. I've learned a lot from my predecessors and supervisors along the way."
"I consider myself a strong leader. In the past, I have demonstrated my ability to step up to the challenge of sharing important news stories with producers and reporters and getting the story done before other stations."
"At different times, I have considered furthering my education in the nursing field. However, right now, I am content with where I am in my career. I enjoy the hands on care that I am able to give to my patients as an LPN. While there may come a time when I decide to go back to school, I don't foresee that in the immediate future."
"I believe that more than being a leader I am a friend, a guide and a support system for the people I work with. I have learnt to be patient, assertive and organized and this has helped me a lot in my job."
"I do see myself as a leader. I currently oversee three junior investigators and some administrative staff. I guide team meetings, disseminate information, monitor performance, approve scheduling, and debrief my team. I have managed people for many years, but I believe that leadership does not always equate to management. I am sure to lead at all times by providing the best model of discretion and work ethic."
"I consider myself a leader because I am someone who is confident in my own decisions. I believe that I know enough about the job that I make good decisions and my opinion is valued. I also like to help others, and work towards our common goal, so we all succeed."
"In my current position, I am also the president of the social committee. I love that I have the opportunity to encourage staff and student engagement while being a positive influence on the workplace culture. I am a natural leader because I start with leading by example. As a leader, I make myself available to others who need mentor-ship, a bit of assistance in adjusting to their teaching role, or just a listening ear when they've had a tough day. I am confident in my leadership abilities and look forward to joining your team as athletic director."