Characteristics of Great Followers – Part One of Two

Much has been written about the characteristics of great leaders. A bunch of it has been written by me but I thought it might be worth the effort to look at leadership from a different perspective. The perspective of followership.

What exactly are the characteristics of someone who is a great follower? Some of you are likely  wondering why anyone would aspire to be a great follower. It seems almost like a given that the goal should be to leave the ranks of followers to assume a role of leadership. 

But that’s not always the case. It is not even close. Many people do not want to be in a position of leadership. They are fulfilled being more of a doer and have no aspirations to lead. 

That’s perfectly okay. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s absolutely necessary. Let’s face it, they are called “doers” for a reason. They get stuff done. Not that leaders don’t but the heavy lifting, the majority of the things that must be done are done by followers, not leaders. 

Any leader who believes otherwise is a very limited leader. They are not being honest with themselves which will make it very difficult for them to be honest with anyone. 

In reality followers are also leaders. That’s why the first characteristic of a great follower is that they lead themselves exceptionally well. They honor their commitments. They maintain a positive attitude and try hard to always give their best effort. They show respect for others. They highly value time and demonstrate their respect of other people’s time with their punctuality. 

They don’t make extra work for their leader. In fact, they try to take some of the workload off of them. That’s the second characteristic of great followers, they lighten the load of others. They do not do it at the expense of their own workload. They efficiently complete their own work and only then look for ways to help their leader and co-workers finish theirs. 

Great followers possess the characteristic of doing what others won’t. They don’t shy away from the tough jobs or trying something new. You’ll seldom hear a complaint from a great follower when they are asked to do something that others are unwilling to do. They see being asked to tackle a tough job as a compliment and recognition of their abilities. They get the job done, no matter the job they were given to do. 

Authentic Leaders help ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things. Great followers can accomplish those extraordinary things with a minimum of leadership. Every leaders needs as many great followers as they can get. They understand that their success is dependent upon the success of their followers. When they have several great followers they can focus more of their attention on the people who need it most. 

In our next post we’ll look at a few more characteristics of great followers. If you’re currently in a “followership” position and aspire to one of leadership then you should know that all great leaders were once great followers. Your best hope of earning a position of leadership is to first develop yourself into the very best follower you can be. 

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