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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Learning to be a Good Follower is critical to becoming a Good Leader!


individualsI believe great leaders also know how to be great followers. Leading is a very difficult job. You take on the responsibility for the people you lead and the for the direction you lead them in.

Since Leaders are responsible for making decisions that impact the whole Organization any decision that doesn’t make sense to us is suspect. Blaming the Leader is easy! We don’t even have to fully understand the situation. I mean after all a bad decision is simply a bad decision right? I’m negatively impacted and unhappy so somebody is to blame. I can even assume that the Leader is unaware, not informed, not well trained, stupid, mean, or even vindictive!

Ok I know you are not that petty. But human nature isn’t always pretty and it is easy for us to jump to conclusions when the Leaders make decisions we don’t like. Good Leaders know this and they know how to communicate effectively, gain the support of their followers and respond to those who are unhappy even though this is not always easy to do.

What about our responsibilities as Good Followers?” I said Good followers! I didn’t say Lemmings (who will follow their Leader over a cliff). So what does it mean to be a Good Follower? Now that is a great question and I promise I will answer it shortly but first I want you to help me nail down what it is to be a Good Leader.

Here is what I need you to do. Take five minutes and make a list of all the values and attributes you want your Leader to have. You can start with trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent (yes I borrowed these from Boy Scouts) but there are more! How about ethical, personable, intelligent, a good listener, decisive, wise, daring, innovative, etc.

If you did the exercise I’ll bet you have a really good list. Now here is the kicker. Do you know anyone who has all these traits and lives up to them all the time? How about you? Can you live up to your list? If you are honest the answer is no to both questions. I have done this exercise with hundreds of people and the lists they create all look remarkably alike.

We know what good looks like and we all believe in the attributes we have placed on the list but no one can live up to our ideals not even us! My goal here is not to change what good looks like or to suggest that Leaders stop striving for excellence, my goal is to help us all recognize the reality of being human and to encourage us to be more empathetic and supportive of the people who step forward and take Leadership roles. We actually can help them be better Leaders by being Good Followers!

Oh I almost forgot. I promised to define for you what it takes to be a Good Follower. Its pretty simple. Actually if you did the exercise you’ve already created the list. It is the same list you created for the Leader! We probably should turn this into some kind of Golden Rule like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Kind of catchy, huh? OK I didn’t create this rule but some very wise person did and it’s been around for a long time. Can you think of another rule or saying like this one that is filled with good advice and wisdom? If you do please share it! Thanks!

The role of Leader is tough and although some people have natural Leadership ability most Leaders benefit from training and or coaching to help them master the challenges of the role. We can help you develop the Leaders in your organization.

If you are interested in learning more about our Leadership Development services please email me at bob@pfccgroup.com