Leadership Development: Be A Great Follower As Well As Leader

career strategy leadership development Jul 25, 2011
Leadership Development: Be A Great Follower As Well As Leader

Have you ever seen Canada Geese fly information? If you have, did you ever notice anything special about the goose leading at the front of the formation, the tip of the V?

Ok, that's a trick question because the goose at the front of the formation is frequently changing. In fact the position of every goose in the formation changes every few minutes. The leader becomes the follower and a follower the leader.

This is a very important point to keep in mind for your own success and leadership development. Not only will you simultaneously be both a leader and follower in terms of an organizational structure, but to get the job done well sometimes a leader will hand over the reins to someone better able to lead a task. Western culture puts a great deal of emphasis on being a leader. How everyone can be a leader. But there is very little discussion about being a follower, a great follower. Without good followers, a leader cannot lead. Supporting your leader by being a great follower, will also get you noticed. Be known as someone who provides great support, no matter what your level in an organization is.

For example, I remember one partner at a Big 4 consulting firm who was photocopying a deliverable so that other people on the team who were the technical experts on the project could focus on drafting a presentation about the deliverable. The partner could have "pulled rank" and done the presentation and leave the photocopying for a junior staff member. But instead he stayed involved and supported the team in the most valuable way he could in that moment, taking direction from the project manager.

It is in these moments that a leader shows what it is like to be a good follower. He could choose to complain about making photocopies or give orders to find someone else to do it or he could choose to happily take the orders and show everyone on the team what it means to be a good follower. How does being a great follower also make you a great leader?

How do you show your leaders that you are a great follower?  What benefits do you see from being a great follower?

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