It’s very simple: every leader needs followers. Companies often look for leadership skills when what they really need is a hard working team player, not another alpha competing for space. Especially if you’re working for a big company, you are but a part of the greater picture, so it’s important to understand your place as a good follower.
Take the Front Seat
Companies are often looking for challenging ideas, and you won’t get those ideas across if you take the back. Don’t misunderstand the idea that a follower must be held back - take the front seat, share your ideas, contribute with everything you can.
The greatest ideas may come from whom you least expect.
During the filming of his short film, Youtuber known as DSLR Guide found himself in trouble when the sun would not sit still during a shot, resulting in either overexposure or underexposure. The hero of the day was the boom mic guy, who suggested they move to the other building, where there was shade enough that the sun wouldn’t bother them. (DSLR Guide)
Know Your Team
Humans are complex by nature, and it’s the leader’s job to understand and manage the team the best possible way, but as a team member yourself, it’s just as important to know the team you’re working with.
This attitude leads to a more synchronized group, one willing to discuss, debate, and resolve conflicts, aiming for the greater good.
Fear Lack of Conflict
Conflict is often seen as a bad thing, but it’s far from it. Conflict is a natural part of human interactions and should be treated as an opportunity to learn, not to win. Conflict is not the same as fighting.
Lack of conflict often means the team has either settled for mediocrity or doesn’t contribute as much as they should. Don’t be afraid to throw in some bold ideas and see what everyone has to say.
“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan
Don’t Take It Personal
As much as we like to give our own ideas - often with passion - your ideas will often be rejected, sometimes because someone gave a better one, or because the leader felt like it wouldn’t benefit the company.
When that happens, don’t take it personal - and most important of all, never stop sharing your thoughts because of it.
Being a follower is not about competing, it’s about contributing. If an idea you had leads to someone having a better one, you’ve done your job. The internal competition always exists to see who does better, but that shouldn’t be your focus. As a good follower, you should worry more about making sure you contribute. You may not always take the spotlight, but a good leader never overlooks the one who pushes the team forward.
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