To Be a Great Leader You Must be a Great Follower
What makes an extraordinary leader? First of all, leadership is about creating a vision of what a true leader means to you. Combine that vision with a steady plan, courage, ambition, persistence, and the end result is a competent, skilled leader. Some of the most influential leaders follow the road of others and use their experience and advice to achieve their goals. Self-coaching is a vital tool. It implies constantly setting standards, building your personality and exceeding your limits. Yet, it’s impossible to achieve greatness if you’re not a good follower.
Do you have a “Double vision”?
Business people have a precise image or vision of what a leader should look like. They know how he must be, feel, dress, react or talk, and act in line with this image. They constantly try to improve their skills to achieve higher goals. Having vision also means being able to talk about the future and predict how things will move forward. Steve Jobs did that pretty often. He offered people a flawless image of a how a new gadget was going to change the world before the launch. He made people feel excited about the products he envisioned, and that’s what we call inborn talent.
Leadership and vision are two things that come naturally to some people, not all. Fortunately, it’s a skill that can be developed in time. It’s not about growing your technical expertise but about learning how to inspire and motivate people.
Become an amazing follower
Great leaders should be even greater followers. Identify and then use the patterns of successful leaders. Learn how to make use of others’ experience, how to benefit from their knowledge, and how to follow into their footsteps. Famous author Warren Bennis writes in his book that all great leaders are great followers.
He says that if you’re promoted within a corporation and you refuse to follow your predecessor’s work, your chances of success are slim. Leaders and followers feature a set of common characteristics. The most important ones are: collaborating, listening, and dealing with the most challenging issues in a graceful way.
Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady argue that to become a great leader, you must achieve performance. They highlight the importance of bringing your own contribution to what your forerunners have already achieved. They state that the fastest way of achieving performance is to control the patterns of success already existent in your corporation. Every leader’s utmost goal must be to turn into a “Performer” who can work with and control flawlessly the company’s existing patterns.
As a proficient “Performer” you will be able to aid other people achieve the same results as you. You can guide them on their way to success and support them all the time. Thus, you’ll become more respected and trusted within your organization. You will be influential, and that’s a vital trait for a leader.
How does a great follower look like?
There’s no exact description of a follower, yet they do set themselves apart through 5 main characteristics:
1) They’re clear. They know what their role is and understand that no one can be a good follower until they find a leader. You may be a leader yourself, but you’ll always need an example, a person to look up to. Great followers don’t simply learn to deal with this reality, but they embrace it.
2) They’re submissive. Submissiveness may be an unfair concept for many, but it’s vital in any organization. If you cannot obey orders then you cannot give them either.
3) They’re servants. All great followers are careful and pay attention to details. They always know what must be done to achieve performance. Also, they complete all their tasks happily and never complain of anything.
4) They’re loyal. Great leaders never gossip or speak behind the back of their superiors. They accept their position and don’t criticize their bosses although they may not agree with their decisions. This doesn’t mean that they are not entitled to a personal opinion. They are and they express it, but they don’t do it openly. Great leaders know that public devotion means private influence.
5) They’re humble. A great follower will never pride with his realizations. He will not be arrogant and will not patronize his employees. Instead, he will treat everyone in his team as equals and will always share credit with them.
All great leaders in today’s society had to start somewhere. If you’re trying to become one, just make sure you have what it takes to be a follower first. Learn from the vast experience of your superiors, master their skills, and adapt their styles to your personality. Leadership skills can be learned, and as long as you have a great teacher, chances are you’ll become a great leader yourself someday.