“He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.”
The best examples of Leadership are found in the Armed forces.Leading soldiers into battle requires a strong, trustworthy and dependable leader. No doubt armed forces present us with exceptional examples of leadership under the most extreme circumstances. A key practice amongst all combat forces is the training aspect in which the obedience of the subordinate to his superior is established as paramount. The Junior officer learns to comply to his chiefs decision without any reservation.
In work life too, the very same concepts apply. To be able to Lead one has to be able to follow and follow well. At times the follower may not have the complete picture and believe the leaders decision to be wrong. He may not understand the logic behind the decision – yet if he is patient, in time he might be able to understand the logic.
Leadership starts with good followership. Men who become leaders too soon – too early end up becoming tyrants – history is replete with many such examples.
It starts with the decision – the decision to follow. Good followers decide on the Leader they want to follow and then totally embrace that decision. They completely understand what this decision entails. It might mean giving up on other competing leaders and leadership styles. At work your choice is limited to choosing the place of work. Once that is decided – the ability to choose your Boss or superior is quite restricted – almost absent. In such a situation this decision has to be taken to ensure a smooth and effective working relationship.
Obedience is a term which we don’t get to hear in the modern day management lexicon and something which is hard to accept. Perhaps that is because obedience harks back to the days of zamindars and landlords with their fiefdoms – which implied unquestioning obedience. The modern day obedience need not be that case. It is obedience nevertheless. To be a good follower – this might be a necessary criteria. Infact there should a law that someone who can’t obey orders should not be allowed to give orders. If a leader cannot display obedience – he cannot be a good role model for his followers.
When given an assignment, a leader can be sure that the job will get done. Dependability is a key trait and incredibly important. The litmus test for a follower lies in his dependability. Followers take projects across the finish line. They make things happen.
The ability to be disciplined and to be able to lead oneself can be sited as another of the key requisites of a good team member. A member who imbibes the vision and mission of his superior – is an undeniable asset to any team. They are the most sought after for their Team skills. Such a follower will align himself or herself to the Leaders goals not waiting to be Lead.
Humility as against arrogance is an essential Hall Mark for a good follower. Humility helps one to accept his/her role as a team member. Even if on any given occasion you have done something outstanding or substantial – Instead of trying to garner attention – giving it up to your Boss and let him take the credit makes for an enlightened follower – let the light shine on your Boss for a while. Your turn will come – infact your boss might be forced to return the favour.
These are but a few useful to have traits for the diligent follower. You might have some other traits in mind. Please feel free to share them in the comments or drop a mail to prakash.francis at ehirings.net.