“The study of follower-ship is an emerging area within the leadership field that helps explains outcomes. Specifically, how followers play important individual, relational, and collective roles in organizational failures and successes.” ~ Wikipedia article titled Follower-ship
In the words of one LeAnn Faye Bosquez, “No s**t Sherlock!”
As I’ve been conducting my human reconnaissance and how it effects mine and your success, I noticed there are way more ‘follower’ jobs than there are ‘leader’ jobs and that got me pondering why aren’t there any ‘training’ books on how to be a great follower, like there is with how to be a great leader books.
Type into Google… books on being a great follower and you will find… there ain’t none.
FOLLOWER-SHIP pops up with one hit. If you ask Google specifically about follower-ship then you get a few more examples but they speak to how follower-ship effects the leadership equation.
Those who know me or read my blog may know that I love and have loved being a dad. My current book project is titled The Definite Dad. So you may find it a bit surprising that when my kids were coming up (they are all grown now) I never taught them to work at “being the best” or “you have to be a leader” especially because we were a baseball family.
“What does that have to do with it Dave?”
Well, you see baseball is a funny game. You may want to be the best batter and want to lead in batting average and home runs.. which is ok… but not realistic in the game of baseball. Here’s why. Because in the younger ages of baseball it never fails that from year to year there will be a kid who you never heard of on the team before, who suddenly is leading the team in hits, RBI’s and average from outta the blue. Then the next year he disappears, and like the Trunchbull from the movie Matilda, “Never to be heard from again.”
So I taught my kids to shoot for being in the top three. Put in the work to be consistently consistent at the plate. Be disciplined. Learn from your mistakes and don’t stress about being NUMBER #1! Guess what. They were usually in the top two. Guess who was number one… sometimes. Guess who was number one other times… I can tell you it was never the same kid twice. And when their Little League, High School, and in one instance College baseball careers were over, guess who who were number one with career at-bats, career average, career doubles, singles… and the biggest feather in the cap… when the chips were down who did the team want at the plate… when it came time to choose team leaders and captains who do you think got the team votes…
In baseball, in life, and in our search for success, our ability to execute consistently, to learn, and to apply our knowledge with ingenuity to solve new problems and tasks… hinges largely on WHO WE FOLLOW.
In baseball my kids batted in the two, three and nine hole. For the uninitiated… batting ninth isn’t always bad. It requires a consistent hitter who can either get a lagging runner across the plate, move a runner into scoring position or get a base hit to extend a rally or to start one if he gets you back to the top of the order… but you are helped by who you follow and you try to protect the guy following you. A leader and a follower all in one felled swoop… or swing… as it were.
It has been my experience that a follower/team reflects the leaders/coach’s personality and communication style. Big and scary gets small and scared. Open and confident gets participation and cohesiveness.
I think one of my next books may have to be titled, “I’m An Excellent Follower… Hire Me.”
In Isaiah 14:12-15 Satan wanted to be the overall leader too. It didn’t work out too well.
In my mortal self I am called to be both leader and follower depending on the particular context of the experience, time of day, or season of life. Sometimes I have a title, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I get recognized, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I get paid, sometimes I don’t… not in worldly wealth anyway.
As I look at my relationship with Jesus, using the image of him when he is with Pilate, and how he has a quiet mind amidst Pilates back and forth with the mob, reading about the Samurai’s mental toughness training, and studying the Stoic Philosophy presented by Marcus Aurelius, I have been able to notice that having that quiet mind… leading and disciplining myself first… has allowed me to be ready to follow or lead as has been necessary.
I look at leaders/supervisors/managers/CEO’s all differently now… number one, I’m currently not that… number two, in my follower/assistant/helper position I am perfectly qualified to lend a hand and participate as needed… sometimes leading/teaching, and sometimes following/learning.
Could you write a book on how excellent a follower you are?