“Being a great follower is as important as being a great leader. Some followers make leadership impossible. Great leaders emerge from great followers.”Noela Ugwu
Below are some qualities that every follower must possess. If you want to position yourself for some leadership roles, these tips will come in handy.
Every great follower must exhibit a high level of devotion to the team. This is not dependent on the team’s performance or your opinion of your team members. There are times when you disagree with your team members or times when you just don’t like your leader’s personality, but always remember that the interest of the team supersedes your personal sentiments. There are times when your team will come under fire by critics or for some reasons that are justified, that is when your loyalty is tested. As long as you choose to remain with your team, it is your duty to protect the reputation of your team. It is disloyal to condemn a team you identify with.
Leadership is made easier when a team is made up of members who do what they say they will do. Not being able to trust your team members is not only frustrating but unsettling. It is not safe to share important or classified information with a team member you cannot trust since the person in question might be running an agenda that is totally different from that of the team’s. No leader wants to constantly watch their back where their team member is involved.
Problem Solving Skills
Your job as a follower is to make your leader’s job easy and to make your leader look good at all times. It is imperative to develop a solution mind-set instead of a problem mind-set. Some followers are only good at identifying or even exaggerating existing problems with hardly any idea on how to solve those problems. Acknowledging the existence of a problem is important but so is suggesting a solution.
Together everyone achieves more (T.E.A.M.) is possible only when a team sees its differences as a source of strength. As a follower, you need to always look at the big picture which is the team’s interest. Pursuing your own interest or choosing to “do your thing” simply because you feel you are more qualified, more experienced or that the rest of the team is too slow for your sense of speed will jeopardise the overall goal of the team. A team exists because there’s a common goal to be achieved and a leader exists because there’s a team to be led. It is important that every team member learns how to communicate effectively in a team in order to smoothen areas of divergent opinions, discover and exploit the potentials presented by the different personalities that exist in the team as well as create an atmosphere of trust and oneness.
Humility is said to be the mother of all virtues by some thought leaders and I agree with them. Without humility, is easy for one to become a toxic team member. Show me a team member who lacks humility and I will show you that person who will constantly drain the positive energy which is the driving force of every team. The bad news is that such people don’t last even if they are competent on their job. Arrogance is the opposite of humility; and it stinks! Arrogant people put other people down and trample on their self-esteem at every given opportunity. Arrogant people are lethal and can demotivate an entire team, snuff out its enthusiasm and consequently leave the leader drained and frustrated. When enthusiasm die, self-motivation goes with it, when a team lacks self-motivation, it manifests as poor performance. And which leader wants to be associated with a team that under-performs? Humility inspires others to become the best they could possibly be. Humble people are fun to be with.
As a follower, you need to see yourself as a leader. The first and the most important team you will ever have to lead is “the team called YOU”. Self-leadership is fundamental to leadership. If you cannot lead yourself, you cannot be a good follower and certainly cannot be a good leader. Some of the traits you need to cultivate in addition to the ones listed above are: self-awareness, a sense of purpose, strong values, influential skills, commitment to set goals, sharpened intuition, selflessness, continuous learning, ability to take calculated risks and any other attribute you would like to see in your leader.
If you are able to hone the skills mentioned above, you will not only be a great follower but an amazing leader.
Noela is an image consultant and a personal development trainer. She helps corporate organisations and individuals achieve high performance through her bespoke trainings, seminars and workshops. She is available to speak at your events.
Reach her on +234 7030514885