An inspiring leader is nothing without people to inspire.
All of my life I have heard “Don’t be a follower.” We hear this in movies, shows, books, from peers, inspirational posts/videos and pep talks. All of them tell us that society doesn’t need any more followers.
I’d like to challenge this idea and ask people to learn how to be better followers.
I firmly believe that no one can be a decent leader, until they master the art of following.
A good follower will involve more people to a cause or project. They are the ones who give the leaders their power to make change.
The negative connotation of the word “follower” is unnecessary. The insult should not carry as much weight as we allow it to.
What does it teach people?
It says: if you are not constantly coming up with your own ideas, then you are not valid. If you piggyback on ideas, then you are not following your own path.
Being a follower is seen as plagiarism by most people around me, and it is astonishing. If you follow someone’s lead on a project, or help their vision become a reality, you are aiding in progress, not ripping them off. However, when you run with an idea on your own, is when you are truly being unoriginal.
Ignoring the importance of being a follower essentially preempts collaboration.
I think the change of mindset for the label “follower” happened between our parents’ and our grandparents’ generation, because society stopped requiring people to pay attention and listen. There were no worries of war or civil unrest. The average citizen was not forced to fall in line for the greater good for many of our parents.
Think about it, if you were never conditioned to be a listener, how can you find someone who is fighting for things you want to get behind? How can you find someone who inspires you enough to make a change?
On the other hand, if you do find this inspirational character, how likely are you to carry a torch in their name? Why follow someone who has made you think, when you can claim the thought for yourself and use it to gather your own followers?
This negative idea of being a “follower” creates chaos. Society becomes a chain of people on the same wave trying to compete to achieve the same goal.
This is why it is important to swallow the pride we instill in ourselves and just be a follower when there is something worth your dedication.
In doing so we may find more ways to improve our own leadership skills and one day be able to accept the full responsibility of bringing like minded people together.