There are times when a leader has to follow others. When this happens, you need to be a good follower and not undermine the chosen leader. The role of follower is to support the teams objectives by doing what you are told and questioning poor decisions – exactly the same thing you want from your followers. The typical leader-as-follower scenario usually takes place when cross-functional teams or committees are formed. Use these opportunities to develop your followership skills – it will make you a better manager.
Followership is just as important as leadership since a leader without good followers will fail. Supporting a leader requires followers to trust the decisions the leader makes. Followership can be hard on managers since they are used to being in charge and usually try to dominate a group. Make it a point to catch yourself when you override or even undermine the appointed leaders decisions. It is best to suggest alternative approaches in private. This is not to say that you should be silent during discussions — just play it low key and not be quick to give direction. This will reinforce the group leaders authority and demonstrate that you are just part of the group. Followership in a leader demonstrates that they understand the importance of someone being in charge. It projects a sense of confidence in ones ability as well as shows an inner strength to accept a lesser role for the good of the whole. Developing both leadership and followership skills will make you better at both. I always figure I should follow the way I want people to follow me.
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