Being A Good Follower
One of the first behaviors learned in becoming an influential leader is to be a good follower. This involves a change in perspective for many from trying to constantly be in charge or take control to letting others have the reigns and instead following their lead. It can be relaxing to not be the one making decisions, though it can also be stressful if you don’t always agree with those decisions. Becoming a good follower is just as difficult, maybe more so, than being a good leader.
Understanding how to follow contains several benefits that may not appear obvious. First, it improves your leadership skills. This goes beyond the modeling followership to understanding what it is like to be your subordinate and how to make their lives better and easier to follow you. Another benefit that seems counterintuitive is that you gain more control over your own career. You may not be able to manage up to every leader you have, however as you become a better follower you will know what you can and cannot do. You will also become more adaptive as an employee and be able to adjust to almost any leadership style or lack thereof.
As a leader you want those who you lead to be good followers so you will need to set the example for them to see how you expect them to behave. Many of the traits of a good follower are also traits of a good leader. Leaders and followers are roles that we all have to varying degrees in different aspects of our lives. You may be a leader in one place and a follower in another. Understanding and exemplifying good followership will improve your leadership skills by helping you to understand what is going on with those who follow you.
Understanding how to follow well is something that will help you no matter where you are in your career. Even if you own the company and do not report to anyone, you are still following market trends and customer requirements/requests. Understanding what is involved in being a good follower will guide you not only in following others but in leading them as well. This is not an exhaustive list of the traits and characteristics of a good follower, but some of the more important ones that you can be working on and improving now. Use them to start working on your own following skills.