We contend that if you want to be a great leader, you must first become a great follower. This Although it is rarely discussed, this is where almost all of history’s greatest leaders got their start.
This is one of the admirable column by popular columnist Michael Hyatt in Your Virtual Mentor website.
Joshua followed Moses for more than forty years before he led the children of Israel into the promised land. Elisha served Elijah for ten years before he took up his master’s mantle and went on to perform even more miracles.
The Apostle Peter followed Jesus for three years—and made a lot of mistakes—before he and his fellow-disciples “turned the world upside down” (see Acts 17:6).
So what does a great follower look like? I would suggest great followers share at least five characteristics:
They are clear.
They understand their role. You can’t be a good follower unless you have clearly identified the leader. While you may be a leader in your own realm, everyone has a boss—including you. Great followers not only accept this fact but embrace it.They are obedient. While obedience may be a politically incorrect concept, it is essential for organizational effectiveness. No one should be allowed to give orders who can’t obey orders. This is how great leaders model to their own followers the standards of acceptable behavior.
They are servants. This is crucial. Great followers are observant. They notice what needs to be done to help the leader accomplish his or her goals. Then they do it—joyfully, without grumbling or complaining.
They are humble. Great followers don’t make it about them. They are humble. They shine the light on the leader. They make their own boss look good—especially in front of his or her boss.
They are loyal. I have written on this before. Great followers never speak ill of their boss in public. This doesn’t mean they can’t disagree or even criticize. It just means that they don’t do it in public. Great followers understand that public loyalty leads to private influence.
We feel like we only scratched the surface. If you want to be a great leader, begin by asking, “How can I be a better follower?” or “How can I make my boss more successful?”