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BLOGLead from behind

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management, Personal Development

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.


For each of your responsibilities where you are a team member and not the leader, how do you see yourself?  Are you a deckhand or a speedboat captain?  This week, consider how to improve your team performance by being a great follower… and leading from behind.

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