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Lead from behind

by Randall Craig on March 28, 2006

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management,

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Much has been written about leadership, but what makes a great follower? In fact, who even wants to be known as a follower?

Being a follower brings up a terribly unhealthy picture: you are uncreative, require close management, have little intellectual capability – and certainly have no leadership potential. While this might be true for some followers (and, admittedly, some leaders too), it isn’t true for many.

An influental mentor once described to me the challenge of managing a large organization: “We may appear to be like the Queen Mary, but we must act like a flotilla of speedboats”. Speedboats can turn on a dime, and respond instantly to changes in the environment around them. Speedboat captains are constantly aware of the leadership vision, the business dynamic, and must be prepared to execute with excellence.

Consider this in the context of your Follower role on a team: do you see yourself as a “deckhand”, or as a speedboat captain? Think of your current team(s): if being a Follower meant being a speedboat captain (instead of a deckhand), would your attitude and actions be any different?

What makes a great Follower? Simple – the same thing that makes a great Leader. Followership means leading – but in this case, leading from behind.

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Randall Craig

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Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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