Why Followership is Essential to Great Leadership
Wars are won by great leaders. These great leaders are valiant, strong, mentally capable and physically durable. Their victories inspire nations and their failures teach lessons for generations. Either way, great leaders are remembered and revered.
Blah. Blah. Blah.
This idea- that leaders win the battles, that leaders are the sole reasons for wins or loses- is rubbish. How can anyone, powerful, courageous, rich or even bullet-proof, win a war without an army?
They can’t, and they don’t. Make no mistake; the mark of a GREAT leader is their Followership.
One Sharp Edge
We have all seen articles, videos, and hundreds of books on what make great leaders. If looked at closely, most of these resources provide leaders with a vague idea of what tools they should use to accomplish great things. Their advice essentially hands the reader a sword with one sharp edge. While they may be able to defeat many foes, their blunted sword will eventually meet a sharper, double-edged sword, only to find they aren’t the great leader they thought they were.
The leader with the double-edged sword has something invaluable and crucial to being a successful leader- followers.
Sharpen the Other Side
Strong followers are often underestimated and disregarded- this is a HUGE mistake. Think of it this way; if a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the strongest chain would have the strongest links. The same applies to great leaders. In fact, the best leaders surround themselves with the smartest, most capable followers they can find.
Just as leaders require certain attributes, so do followers. A great follower knows how to choose their leader, and will only choose the cream of the crop. Once a great follower has chosen you as a leader, it’s only a matter of time before other strong followers join your team, creating a force to be reckoned with. You would be able to trade your blunt sword in for a sharp and lethal one.
As a leader, you should always consider the things you’d look for in a leader. You most likely have high standards, and you should expect your followership to have similar expectations.
- What would I look for in a leader? (Accountability, good communication skills, follow through etc.)
- Do I possess those attributes?
- Do my actions line up with my words ALL of the time?
- Do I transcend my title? In other words, do I rely on my position to attract followers, or do I lead with conviction despite my title?
- As a follower, would I trust me?
- Do I show concern for my team and their success?
- Do I communicate with my team in a clear and concise way that inspires productivity and encourages success?
- Do I take charge in times of crisis, or do I panic?
- Am I consistent in my dealings with my team, or do I change my policies with the direction of the wind?
- Ultimately, would I be willing to wear a blindfold and follow myself anywhere without hesitation?
If you answered no, you can’t expect anyone else to do the same. A great follower, when matched with a truly great leader, will follow their leader anywhere at any time without question. This is because a GREAT leader realizes they need more than an inherent sense of leadership- they need to attract and maintain a strong Followership.
So, remember, the next time you go into battle, your armor isn’t just your skills as a leader, but the people you’ve surrounded yourself with. Smart leaders are not the smartest people in the room, their followers are.
If you’re the smartest, most talented person in the room, what does that say about your company? If anything, it should tell you to find another room and better company.
Sharpening your sword as you read, Lex.