I think we have all heard the old saying “Not everyone can be a leader.” I don’t know if I fully agree with that or not. I do however think that everyone can be, and to some extent is a follower. It seems recently that being a follower has acquired some negative connotation to it. But think about it. Unless you are the CEO of your own (private) company, you have to follow someone else. If you don’t chances are that you probably won’t be around there for too long.


Being a follower doesn’t make anyone any less of a leader. In fact if you are able to follow in an open an honest way, it probably makes you a better leader. Leaders need to lead by example. If you can take an order or a directive whether you fully agree with it or not, and follow it and complete the task, you are demonstrating the type of behavior that you will expect from your team. You may have disagreed with the decision, but that does not relieve you of the responsibility of accomplishing the assigned objective.


Being a follower doesn’t mean that you have to agree with every order or that you may not have a different opinion from your leader. A healthy organization has diverse opinions and views. It helps prevent mistakes. No one person has all the answers. Because of this a good leader cannot be afraid to learn a new answer from one of their followers. Good leaders need to expect and encourage differing points of view. Good followers need to present them for consideration. It is how good followers in turn become good leaders. Good leaders and good followers need to understand that differing opinions before decisions are good for the organization. This type of healthy friction needs to occur throughout the organization.


As the decisions are made, and handed down from leaders to followers, who in turn become their teams’ leaders, directional alignment needs to happen. If you have had your input and say on an issue, but a different course of action from your proposed one was decided on, it is now time to be a good follower.


You will now in turn need to work with your team, align them in the creation and implementation of a plan to achieve the assigned goal. To do anything else would be dissention, and that will be harmful to the organization. You can have multiple opinions from followers in a healthy organization, but you can’t have multiple directions emanating from each leader in the organization.

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