Does being a good follower make you a better leader?
Most leaders don’t start out in leadership positions—but they do use their humble entry-level positions to gain perspective about positive leadership. According to Barbara Kellerman, a leadership lecturer at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, significant shifts in technology and culture have changed the leader-follower dynamic. There is truth behind the phrase “leaders lead and followers follow,” but there’s a lot to learn about being an effective leader by learning to be a good follower. Good followers aren’t passive, but instead passionately committed and deeply involved in their organization and its goals. Here are some important skills Kellerman believes you learn about leading by following:1. Awareness—Emerging leaders are aware of other’s feelings and circumstances. This includes coworkers, colleagues, board members, customers and the general public. Good followers learn about what motivates them and their coworkers to do good work, as well as understanding other people’s needs and encouraging their potential.
2. Diplomacy—The ability to communicate well and get along with others does not stop at subordinate roles; this is something that all leaders must possess. While followers may not always feel the need to interject when a co-worker says something disagreeable, it’s a leader’s responsibility to acknowledge and address these differences. A leader or manager can’t afford to be oblivious to the attitudes of those around them.
3. Courage—Being a good follower means having the courage to stand up to superiors if they believe the leadership is going in the wrong direction or doing something that will hurt the company. This isn’t always easy. It requires strength of conviction that is essential to good leadership as well.