great leader

Can being a follower make you a great leader?

August 13, 2014
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great leader Can being a follower make you a great leader?

What makes a leader great?

When it comes to qualifying what makes a great leader, opinions tend to vary greatly. Some people believe that a strong, determined leader will take people further than a person who is prone to consult with others before making a final decision. Is it better to bend a little or stand firmly on your ground? Taking a lead from Martha Beck, all who follow are not necessarily unqualified leaders.

Sometimes the greatest leaders are the best followers.

bar Can being a follower make you a great leader?
I know, this seems to defy everything we believe. Followers are typically seen as weak, indecisive, and introverted, but this is not always the case. Even leaders, take advice from other people. Most CEO’s employ financial advisers, tech support, and marketing specialists; this is not to say they are incapable of doing the job, but rather, they believe someone else’s opinion, or lead, would be more beneficial to their company.



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The same is true in daily life; we take “leads” from attorneys, mechanics, plumbers, decorators, Realtors, bankers, and teachers; followers are not always weak or indecisive. You are simply bending enough to maximize your situation, which happens to be a quality of a good leader: using your resources to make informed decisions.

Followers’ advantages in the workforce

Followers have the ability to listen attentively, assess a situation, and effectively give feedback because they are used to observing a room before partaking in it; another good quality to have in a leader: think before you act. Think about it: if you never received any negative feedback, how would you improve? We all need feedback, advise, and clear communication to make better informed decisions and these are all things that a leader should appreciate and implement if they want to be effective.

Beck states, “Full attention paves the way for something that shocks most people in our leadership-obsessed society: voicing your observations, then asking to be told where you’re wrong. This is high risk for the ego, but it brings the full power of following to any situation by clarifying communication. Asking where you’re wrong, rather than where you’re right, puts you in the position of a powerful follower: confident enough to handle negative feedback, humble enough to be corrected.” A very novel concept indeed.

Whether you believe a follower can be an effective leader or not, keeping the lines of communication open between yourself and your employees is imperative. Because today’s follower could be tomorrow’s leader.

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  • rolandestrada

    This assumes you are following a great leader. After you have observed and learned the attributes of a great leader there comes a time of choice. You need to choose whether to be a valued subordinate or assume your own leadership role. Depending on the corporate structure, it might be possible to do both.