They say great minds think a lot. Yesterday my dad posted about over-popularizing leadership and its negative effects. You can read that HERE. Ironically, I had this post scheduled to release next Wednesday, but for the sake of relevance, I’ve bumped it up to today.
Leadership is a popular subject. Everybody wants to be a leader. Everybody talks about “leadership development”. I can remember being in elementary school and having guest speakers come and talk to our class about “becoming a leader”. The general message was that leaders make decisions, while followers just go along with whatever everybody else says.
The underlying basis for the challenge wasn’t really about leadership, though, the challenge was to be individuals. Leadership has been communicated as synonymous with independence and resistance to peer pressure. The more leadership is encouraged, the more people resist followership.
In our culture, admitting to be a follower is like admitting to be a loser. Pride is at stake when leadership comes up because of the negative stigma associated with following. Everybody’s desire to be a leader ultimately hurts harmony and progress.
The problem with all the leadership talk is obvious: not everyone can be a leader. In fact, not everybody even should be a leader. If everybody were a leader, nobody would be. A step further, if everybody wants to be the leader nobody will be.
If leadership is necessary (which we all know it is), then so is followership. In order for excellent leadership to take place, excellent followership must take place as well. Great followers help make great leaders by giving them opportunities to lead.
So here’s my question: In what areas can you embrace followership in order to strengthen the leadership in place? Despite the stigma, following does not entail passiveness. Following does not mean you’re giving into peer pressure. Followership is about strengthening leaders.
I think it would serve us well to learn the art of following. What are some excellent followership principles?