Remember the childhood game “Follow the Leader”? One lucky kid was chosen to lead a straggling line of other children under tables and over chairs and through the tightest little spot between bookcases. The leader got to make all of the decisions – when to hop, how long to army-crawl, how fast to run. The followers only job was…well, to follow.
After a few minutes, the followers would generally tire of mimicking every move of the leader and start clamoring to become the next leader. “I want to do it!” “It’s my turn now!” Because as they learned to follow, they learned what it took to become the next leader.
I’ve been learning what it means to become a good follower. I have ideas about how to lead my team. I am excited about building relationships and connecting people to the vision. But I tend to head off on my own, forgetting that my detours have the potential to hurt everyone in the process. Leaders who don’t learn to follow well end up becoming dictators or bullies, and that is the last thing I want!
So, how can I become a better follower?
I can learn everything possible about my leader. Instead of second guessing my leader’s motives or plans, I will be free to trust my leader when I have learned about them.
I can support my leader when they lead in the right direction, and have the courage to confront them when they wander off-track. Leaders aren’t perfect! But a good leader desires to grow, and wants their team to let them know when they are approaching things the wrong way.
I can clearly communicate with my leader. An effective leader relies on copious amounts of feedback. It is my responsibility as a follower to provide that feedback.
I can notice what needs to be done and just DO it! Sometimes instead of talking about what needs to be done, I can simply do it!
The next round of “Follow the Leader” that I’m asked to join? I want to be a follower – so that eventually I will become a better leader.
How can you become a better follower?