To lead effectively in any area of life, you have to learn how to be a good follower. If you fail at following then you may not do much as a leader; if you ever become one. I think that the true test of leadership is how well you have also followed the person who was leading you.
Why is followership a test of leadership? It is because when you are following other people you are expected to provide some support to help them succeed. You are a part of a team and your role in that team also helps the leader to succeed.
You may have heard leaders who blame their failure on poor followership. While that is totally unacceptable as a reason to fail when you are a leader, it is also still true that some leaders fail because of the followers they have. So it’s very important to keep in mind the concept of being both a leader and a follower for you to succeed as a leader.
Some other people will even ask, ‘if everybody is a leader who will be the follower?’ Weren’t some people born as leaders and some others just meant to follow? The answer to that is simple. I will say that everyone is a leader and also a follower. What do I mean? We all must lead and we all must follow but for us to avoid chaos, the important thing is to know when to lead and know when to follow. That also means you are a follower in one capacity but when your leaders asks you to also lead a small group then you have become a leader.
As a young leader who was Senior Prefect in my high school, I led when I was in school but followed when I got home. It would have been foolish to try to lead my parents! Even though my parents led at home, they are also followers in their places of work. There is hierarchy in leadership. So your leader has a leader and the leader of your leader also has a leader – no pun intended. That shows you how we can be leading and still be following.
If you can learn to follow and to also switch into leading simultaneously, you will become a more effective person. You will understand different roles and be a versatile person. That way, you are more useful to yourself, the people around you, the organisation you are in and those you lead or follow. I think it will help you become more:
When you learn to switch between being a leader and a follower you will appreciate a leader better and also appreciate a follower better. Never forget that you are both a leader and a follower at the same time so I urge you to get your mind really prepared. Lead when it is time to lead and follow when it is time to follow.