Follow to Lead

Why would someone want to be a leader? To utilize their gifts and talents to effect positive change in the world? To guide people who need it into a better version of themselves? To control other people? To make their organization run more smoothly and increase client satisfaction and, in some cases, increase profits? One of these? All? None?

Conversely, why would someone want to be a follower? To shirk responsibility that comes with being a leader? To reduce the stress that leadership brings? Lack of confidence to be a leader? All? None?

Today, let’s consider how being a follower can grow one into becoming a powerful and effective leader.

Consider this:

Every leader was once a follower.

Every leader once needed to be mentored.

Every leader makes mistakes.

Every leader doesn’t know everything.

Every leader needs a followers.


Every follower has at least one leader.

Every follower needs to be mentored.

Every follower makes mistakes.

Every follower doesn’t know everything.

Ever follower needs a leader(s).

Notice the middle line in each section: mistakes. There is no difference in a leader and a follower in this regard, that is, neither are perfect. Therefore, to choose to be a follower is not a step down. It is a trampoline to moving up. Why? Learn from the mistakes of leaders if you want to become a good leader.  Let me be clear: observation not judgment of mistakes. There is a big difference. Observation coming from a spirit of altruism and discovery is very powerful.

 To be a follower, one must be humble. Why? Because followers take orders, not give them. Followers have less power than leaders therefore they must do as they are told.

 To be a follower, it is helpful if one is open to being mentored. Followers who are willing to be mentored usually become great leaders. Followers who admit their need for assistance recognize one key component of leadership: Not being afraid to ask for help.

Let me encourage you: Humility + Teachability = A follower who WILL become a leader. It’s a fact. People observe our character and humility is a rare one. So is teachability. Seek humility, not humiliation, and teachability and you will be an incredible follower who will become a great leader. And remember no leader is NOT a follower. Everyone follows someone. Choose wisely.



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Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network
Mental Health America of Virginia

The Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network is a program of Mental Health America of Virginia.

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