10 Reasons Why Being a Follower Is Just as Important as Leading

Think about the last time you were part of a team, whether at work, in sports, or during a group project. You probably recognized the significance of the leader’s role. But what about the followers? It’s easy to overlook the importance of being a follower, yet it’s as crucial as leading.

Today, let’s shift our perspective from the spotlight of leadership to the often-underappreciated art of followership. Here, you’ll discover that embracing the role of a follower is not just about taking orders—it’s about making a profound impact.

1. Supports Team Harmony

Every team needs a balance to function effectively; followers are key to maintaining this balance. By understanding and supporting the group’s goals, followers help create an environment where everyone can thrive. This dynamic is especially visible in settings like orchestras where each member’s contribution is vital to the overall performance, echoing the importance of followers in a team.

2. Enhances Project Success

Consider a time when you worked on a project under someone’s guidance. Though primarily supportive, your role was crucial for the project’s success. Effective followers are adept at executing tasks that align with the leader’s vision, ensuring that projects are completed efficiently and successfully.

3. Encourages Diverse Ideas

A robust team isn’t made up of yes-men. Instead, it thrives on diverse ideas and perspectives, which followers often bring forth. These varied viewpoints lead to innovative solutions, underscoring the benefits of being a good follower who isn’t afraid to think differently and challenge the norm when necessary.

4. Develops Future Leaders

Leadership skills are often honed in the ranks of followership. By observing leaders, followers learn crucial leadership qualities like decision-making, accountability, and motivating others. This natural progression from follower to leader is essential to career development, illustrating the leadership versus followership continuum.

5. Promotes Learning and Growth

You’re in an excellent position as a follower to observe, learn, and grow. This role allows you to witness firsthand the trials and triumphs of leadership, providing a learning ground for enhancing your skills and emotional intelligence. This aspect of followership prepares you for future roles and enriches your personal and professional life.

6. Increases Adaptability

Adaptability is a hallmark of effective followership. Followers must often adjust their strategies or approaches based on new directions or changing environments. This agility enhances the team’s ability to navigate challenges successfully, underscoring the trait of a supportive follower.

7. Builds Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

Following effectively demands a high degree of empathy and emotional intelligence. These skills enable followers to understand and respond to the dynamics of their team and leaders, fostering a cooperative and supportive work environment. Such emotional acuity aids in smoothing over conflicts and enhancing team communication.

8. Stabilizes Leadership

Leaders can’t operate in a vacuum. They depend on reliable followers to bring their visions to life. This support system stabilizes their position and amplifies their effectiveness, showcasing the critical role followers play in supporting leadership.

9. Cultivates Responsibility

Accountability isn’t just for those in charge. Followers also share in the responsibility for a team’s successes and failures. Embracing this role fosters a sense of ownership and commitment, which is crucial to effective followership.

10. Encourages Ethical Behavior

Fostering an ethical workplace is a shared responsibility. Followers play a crucial role in maintaining high standards by supporting good practices and questioning actions that may conflict with established norms. This active engagement is vital for sustaining an ethical culture within any organization.

Reflections on the Role of a Follower

Understanding the importance of followership helps reframe how we view team contributions. As we have explored, followers are not just passive recipients of orders but are active participants in leadership and organizational success. This perspective shift can help you recognize the value of every role you take, whether leading or following.

Questions to Consider

  • How can improving your followership skills impact your current role at work or in other group settings?
  • In what ways might better understanding and practicing emotional intelligence make you a more effective team member?
  • Reflect on an experience where you were a follower. What could you have done differently to contribute more effectively to your team?