Follower is not a term of weakness, but the condition that permits leadership to exist and gives it strength. Dynamic followers recognize their own aspirations in the leader’s vision. They follow their own light, which the leader intensifies. They give 110 percent, not because the leader “motivates them” but because they are inspired—the spirit of the activity is within them. They are interdependent with, not dependent on, the leader. They add value to both themselves and the leader through this relationship.
The value of a follower is measured by how completely the follower helps the leader and organization pursue their common purpose within the context of their values. Certain characteristics help to do this:
Effective followers are cooperative and collaborative, qualities essential to all human progress.
Trusted followers integrate their ego needs sufficiently into their communal responsibilities to serve rather than compete with the leader.
Well-balanced followers are less prone to the pitfalls that await leaders with strong egos and can serve as guides around these pitfalls.
Caring followers perceive the needs of both the leader and other group members and try to form a bridge between them.
We retain our value as followers to the degree we remain true to those whom our organization serves, to the degree we are courageous in doing this. If we bend to the will of a leader when it conflicts with the interests of our stakeholders, or if we bend to the will of our stakeholders when it conflicts with the higher values of humanity, our value is greatly diminished.