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Successful Leaders are Great Followers

We often hear that being a good leader takes great communication skills, ability to see the long term goal, make the hard decisions when needed and so much more.  But we rarely talk about the fact that in order to be a good leader you have to know how to follow.

Why is it important to know how to follow before you are in a leadership position?  Let’s take a look:

  • They know what their job is. Have you been in a group where there has been no clear leader? Or followers?  It is chaos!  In order to have a group that can make change there has to be a leader with a vision and followers that know their goal is to help the leader get that accomplished.
  • They are obedient. In order for a leader to be respected, they need to know how to follow directions as well.  When they don’t listen to and abide by the rules they show a lack of respect.  Following direction is essential for managerial effectiveness and organizational structure. It is how good leaders model the behavior they want to see.
  • They want to serve. They see what needs to be done and they do it, without complaining.  They want to be one of many parts in the machine that gets the job done and helps make the leader’s vision come to fruition.  Being a good team player makes them an integral part of the company.
  • They have humility. We’ve all heard the old adage that you’ll go far if you make your boss look good.  But … it’s true.  If you help your boss to get noticed by having a job well done, you make yourself look good because you were on their team. This goes a long way in your home life as well as your work life.
  • They are trustworthy. No one likes a yes-man but even worse is the employee that publicly disagrees or insults others.  They lose all credibility if others see them talk badly about those they work with or even someone in their family.  You can disagree, just do it in private.  Public loyalty leads to private influence.

We know what it takes to move the dial forward. It takes all the personalities at the table:  the worker bee, the researcher, the decision maker and the cheerleader.  Knowing how to listen, take instruction and run is an important part of becoming a leader.  I’ve seen it time and time again at work and in my personal life and you have too.  When you give someone direction and they take it and go – only asking questions if they can’t figure it out, these ARE our future leaders!

Leadership is not about power, it’s about influence.  When you follow well you can become a good leader because you are connected to your followers.  You know where they are and what they need. You understand trust, obedience and what being part of a team means.

“ALL leaders follow someone.” – John Maxwell


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