October 10, 2016
We grow up surrounded by examples of leadership in every aspect of our lives, from our parents and teachers to our older siblings and our bosses.
Some kids grow up with an aspiration to be one of these leaders; to be president or the CEO of a successful company.
But what about those who just want to do what they’re passionate about, even if that doesn’t mean becoming what we call a leader?
UCCS encourages students to become ethical and effective leaders. They provide programs such as UCCSlead, the National Leadership of Society and Success and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.
But the lessons we learn on how to be a great leader shouldn’t just be for those who want to become a leader. The term, leader, can be interpreted in many different ways.
Adolf Hitler was considered a powerful leader, although many of us see him as an awful person, he was still considered a leader.
Sometimes the word follower implies that someone can’t do the same job as a leader; that they’re weaker or incapable of helping a group of people.
The term leader, comes with positive reinforcements of power and success. The term follower can come with thoughts of unimportance or less than.
But we should remember that without followers, leaders wouldn’t be leaders, they won’t be successful in their companies, organizations or classrooms if we do not also value those we label followers.
The characteristics of a leader should not just be applied to leaders. They should be applied to everyone. These skills should be taught to everyone regardless of whether or not they want to be a “leader” or a “follower.” Being labeled a leader doesn’t make us better than anyone else.
Without followers, leaders have no one to inspire. If we are all try to be a leader, then there are no followers.
There is no shame in not being a leader, followers keep an organization running. We can all learn something from leadership theories and studies, not to be an excellent leader, but to analyze those who lead us when we don’t have the chance to be a leader ourselves.
According to Harvard leadership lecturer Barbara Kellerman, followers infl uence the leader in getting goals accomplished.
Followers demonstrate qualities of awareness, diplomacy, collaboration, critical thinking and most importantly, courage, said Kellerman in a Fast Company Article.
A follower’s courage to disagree with their leader’s style is also important. This task isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary if anyone wants to truly improve. Sometimes, the best collaborative ideas come from the followers.
Wanting to be a leader in whatever we do is certainly admirable, and learning how to use our skills to the best of our abilities will make for better companies and organizations in the future.
But we shouldn’t forget that life isn’t always about climbing to the top. Our drive to be a leader should come with good intentions and motivation, to help others and better whatever it is we’re leaders of.
Sometimes the best leaders are also the best followers.