Leadership is a big deal in every corporate world – mostly good leadership. Regardless of your sector, the highest point of personal, professional, and career success is becoming a leader. Hence, a lot of personal desire and hard work is channeled towards getting to that height and becoming a good leader. Of course, those who get there are celebrated. How about the rest that didn’t make it?
That, however, constitutes a big problem. In reality, no one starts today and becomes a leader tomorrow. Even if the title “manager,” “director,” or “vice president” is attached to your name, it doesn’t make you a leader in the real sense. There are processes that need to be undergone before one can become a leader; that begins with being a good follower.
So much time is spent wondering how to attain the good leader status and no thought is given to followership, which is a vital attribute of becoming a leader. If truly we desire good leadership, then our attention and preoccupation must be changed from leadership in itself. In a nutshell, followers deserve greater praise and serve as the sole prerequisite of becoming a leader.
There is no leadership without followership
Leaders are not meant to be superior to their followers and as such followers are not meant to be inferior to their leaders. There is no exclusive information or knowledge that is reserved for leaders alone. They are only humans with flaws, just like their followers.
Followership has real value. Yet when seminars are called on followership, very few persons respond to it. Most people always ask why. The answer is the lack of respect and importance attached to followership skill, and also because people who excel in followership are not appreciated. Followership has a bond with leadership that is not breakable, yet we neither notice nor appreciate it. We fail to mention that the reason we have great leaders is that we have great followers.
In reality, the likes of Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Martin Luther King did not achieve their fame on their effort alone. Behind them were committed and dedicated workers who assisted them all the way. In the same way, no best-selling author will emerge without numerous voracious readers. A great coach is noticed because there are talented athletes who work hard. Also, it is exceptional students really that make an award-winning educator and faculty.
Companies and organizations are well-run with the help of committed and dedicated employees who are “the followers”. And the bottom line is: all great leaders know both how to follow and when to follow. Nothing meaningful will be achieved if you excuse followership.
Followership is a major skill in leadership
Everyone who intends to create a high-performing organization must avoid demonizing followers. There is no automatic placeholder for the follower or the leader. So, nothing says one is better than the other in cognitive, social, or emotional intelligence skills. None of them can achieve anything significant as regarding organizational goals without the other’s full cooperation. Both parties need to work together synchronously for organizational goals to be achieved.
The best followers make the best leaders
If you are in the position to recommend people for effective leadership, you’ll always recommend those that have been great followers. When one has become a good follower, the individual learns how to pay attention to people’s opinion, consider their inputs and also work with emotional intelligence. One who hasn’t been an excellent follower cares less about other people’s need or even thinks of asking for their opinion. They have the tendency to consider employees as being under them and as people meant to serve them and provide their need.
Those who don’t value followership won't value others too. It is those who have value and regard for followership that get to become the best of leaders. This is because they care about people following them and are willing to show it. They know that they have limits as leaders and thus appreciate the ability of their followers to either make or break them. They also know that an increased number of subordinates do not take away their human nature, their vulnerabilities and their shortcomings too.
The reason why the best followers will always emerge as best leaders is because they consider their follower's thoughts, ideas, and talents. For these leaders, each contribution made by any member of their team and employee is valued. They don’t push employees for questioning and challenging them. Rather they see it as being accountable to people which make them a better leader.
Good followers have the ability to view others leaders in their own way, and this helps you in knowing what to do when you eventually become a leader in of any team. The purpose of leadership is not to have people around you cater for your need. It is about finding out the potential of your team and doing your best to maximize these potentials as you seek to achieve a common goal.