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To Be a Great Leader, You Must First Learn to Follow

Leadership is often associated with being in charge, making decisions, and setting direction for a team or organization. However, what many fail to realize is that becoming a successful leader first requires mastering the art of following.

While following may not seem as glamorous as leading, it plays a crucial role in the development of any effective leader. In fact, some of the greatest leaders of our time were once excellent followers. Rare is an organization that doesn’t have several layers or levels of authority. Basically, you are more likely to be in some form of following even if you have a very senior position. Even the CEOs of major corporations must follow the desires of the Board of Directors.

In this post, we’ll explore how the ability to follow can help you become a better leader.

Learning from experience

    Being a follower allows you to learn by watching the actions of your superiors, both good and bad. For example, if your boss made a decision that negatively impacted the team, you can learn from it and avoid making the same mistake when you are in a leadership role. On the other hand, if your boss took a successful approach to a certain project, you can follow their example and apply it in your own work.

    Building trust

    As a follower, you must earn the trust of your superiors by meeting expectations and taking direction. This involves being dependable, showing initiative, and being accountable for your actions. By establishing trust with your superiors, you set the foundation for future leadership, as trust is a critical component of leading others.

    Understanding others

    Being a follower requires paying close attention to the needs, concerns, and personality traits of those around you. This allows you to understand the motivations and behaviors of others and see things from their perspective. When you become a leader, you can draw on this understanding to effectively communicate and collaborate with your team members.

    Developing a strong work ethic

    Effective leadership requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance. As a follower, you can develop these skills by setting high expectations for yourself and striving to exceed them. This will not only help you to earn the respect of your superiors but also the admiration of your colleagues.

    Gaining respect

    In order to lead effectively, you must first earn the respect of your team members. As a follower, you can gain the respect of your fellow employees by displaying a positive attitude, being open to feedback, and demonstrating a willingness to learn and grow. When you become a leader, these same behaviors will help you establish a connection with your team members and get them to buy into your vision.


    In conclusion, learning how to be a good follower is an essential skill for any aspiring leader. By being a good follower, you develop the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to lead effectively. You also learn to build trust, understand others, develop a strong work ethic, and gain respect.

    So, the next time you find yourself in a position where you must follow, embrace the opportunity and use it to become the best leader you can be.

    Introducing the WHY.os. Learn YOUR why, how, and what that drives your passion and motivation.


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