We live in a leader-centric world.
We are bombarded by books, courses and experts that continually espouse the virtues of leadership.
Followers are just as important.
Not everyone needs to be, or should be, a leader in every situation.
Society’s over-emphasis on leadership and authority overshadows the enormous benefits of a more reserved, self-motivating approach to achieving results.
When writing about how leadership has muddled the world of college admissions, Susan Cain explains:
Perhaps the biggest disservice done by the outsize glorification of “leadership skills” is to the practice of leadership itself — it hollows it out, it empties it of meaning. It attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve. It teaches students to be a leader for the sake of being in charge, rather than in the name of a cause or idea they care about deeply.
Followership does not mean apathetically sitting back and letting others take control. Quite the opposite. Leaders that harness the passion, expertise and strength of their followers will find support for their ideas, and a loyal, dedicated team that sets the bar high.
The best leaders are also exceptional followers. The skills are intertwined.
Why Every Organization Needs Strong Followers
- They are willing to speak their mind with honesty and integrity.
- They are acute observers.
- They model good behavior.
- They get things done.
- They are independent thinkers.
- They have the courage to take an unpopular stance.
- They can translate a vision into action.
Want to develop better leaders? Start by recognizing the power and potential of great followers.
Marta Steele is a partner at PeopleResults, where she trains leaders to communicate clearly and powerfully. Connect with her on Twitter @MartaSteele.