Starting from the proposition that leadership in animal groups is closely related to proximity maintenance between members, the relative contributions to mutual proximity (approach/leaving index) of parents and offspring were determined for 29 semi-captive bar-headed goose families (Anser indicus) in the context of undisturbed feeding. Up to 6 d of age goslings contributed more, when older than 10 d less than their parents to proximity. The percentage of following by parents was negatively related to goose density, and positively to the frequency of defence when offspring were very young, and to brood size when offspring were older. The results are compared with opposite findings in monkeys and explained in terms of likely benefits of leaving and following. Two general characteristics of group leaders (competence or need of support) are suggested.