Followership is the Key to Mastering Leadership

Followership is the Key to Mastering Leadership

By: Dennis Sherrin

The philosopher Aristotle was quoted as saying, “he who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader”. However, many see the word “follower” as something less than being a “leader”. In fact, if you read blogs about “top skills hiring managers are looking for,” you will quickly notice that leadership is on each one of them, while followership is nowhere to be found. If you feel leadership is a superior quality to followership, I encourage you to continue reading and consider the positive impacts of learning to be a follower.

Followership is Focused on the Team

The success of any organization does not rest with one person. We all know they saying, “two heads are better than one”. This perfectly describes how teams can accomplish more than a single individual. Success comes from a team of people (mostly compromised of followers) working toward a goal. Often, the leader can guide, but it is the team (the followers) who work together to reach the goal. When you are one of many followers versus being just one leader, you are part of a group that can make a larger impact.

When practicing followership, you display a commitment beyond yourself. Every person has their own ideas and their own goals. When practicing followership, you commit yourself to the goals of the organization. When you are practicing leadership, often there is a focus on the self. A leader acts as an individual to show others what is needed/how to succeed.

Followership Develops Leadership Skills

Followership makes you an even better leader – following the lead of others is how we develop our own style of leading. What is the best way to learn the skills you need to become a successful leader? Learn from experience. As a follower, you will see the styles of many different types of leaders. You will learn what methods and styles you like and want to replicate when it is your turn to lead.

In the same vein, practicing followership will also teach you the skill of influence. When you are a participant of a group rather than a leader, you have the opportunity to contribute your knowledge and experience to influence the direction of an initiative in a different way than a leader does. Being part of the group instead of in charge of it gives you a better look into how your team functions.

Better Understand Unique Abilities & Expertise

Every person has an area of expertise and a unique ability. When practicing followership, you can better learn where your teammates have superior skill, passion, energy and never-ending improvement. Learning to recognize these talents in others will allow you to better delegate and build more dynamic teams when are you are in a leadership position. A successful team has members that bring expertise and when those skills are combined with others, it creates a powerful group capable of significant progress in very little time.

Start Learning Followership Today!

The skill of “followership” has a significant influence on the success of an organization. Followers are the individuals that make vision reality. Spending time as a member of the team instead of the leader is an incredible time to learn and grow as an individual. While practicing the skill of followership, you will see various leadership styles enacted through others. From this experience, you can develop your own style of leadership.   Learning the skill of followership benefits both teams, leaders, and the organization as a whole.