From the first days of Kindergarten to work meetings and sports games, we hear how important it is to be a strong leader. What we don’t hear much of is how valuable it can be to be a good follower. What? Yes, learning to follow well can be just as fundamental to success as it is to being a trailblazer.
The term “follower” can be misunderstood. Being a follower doesn’t necessarily mean being passive or sitting back and doing nothing. It’s more about partnership with the people around you who take on the leadership role to create success; if everybody tries to be a leader, not much is going to get done.
There are opportunities to be both leader and follower, so embrace the times it makes more sense for someone else to take a leadership role. Then, step up during the times when you feel confident you can best lead. What are some skills you can sharpen to help you be a better follower, so in turn you can also be a better leader?
Obviously your boss is an important person when it comes to your job. How you choose to interact with them is something you can control and building a relationship is important. While it’s important to have your own ideas and opinions, it’s also necessary to view things from your boss’s perspective. Being aware of their goals helps you know what actions you can take to help achieve them.
Being a follower doesn’t mean sitting back and not doing anything until you’re told. Look for chances where you can support or be helpful without being asked. Having a proactive mindset grows your ability to see a bigger picture and improve all around.
There are times to raise your voice and times to keep your opinions to yourself. A good follower learns how to get along with all types of people- even if you have different viewpoints or beliefs- while still being mindful of those differences.
Working well as a team creates both successful followers and leaders. When working with others, you can accomplish big things together that may not have been possible by a single individual. When you’re following a leader on a task or a project, your ability to take instruction or put things into action can make all the difference.
Luckily, you have plenty of opportunities in different settings to figure out which role suits you best and where. Try different types of work that meet your needs and lifestyle, test various work settings to find what feels comfortable and could be a place for growth. You’re taking the time to set yourself up for success, whether as a leader or a follower, and both are equally important.
About the AuthorMore Content by Anna Mischke