Thursday, January 28, 2010

“Are You A Leader Or A Follower?” – Prof.M.S.Rao

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." - Dwight D Eisenhower

When you look at leaders like Obama, Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, they all have one common thing. They are all the followers of the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. These personalities excelled as leaders as they were good followers. Therefore, you need to a follower first to excel as a leader. However, people interpret being a follower is a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a symbol of strength.

Plato was the follower of Socrates. Aristotle was the follower of Plato. Alexander the Great was the follower of Aristotle. Why did all these leaders succeed? It is because there were all followers of their leaders and learnt the ropes and evolved as leaders in their areas.

You frequently hear about leadership. But hearing about followership appears to be strange, right? Followership helps in getting into the shoes of others and empathizing with others thus excelling as a leader. If you want to become a leader you must first know about followership.

Characteristics of Followers:

“Follower’ is not a term of weakness, but the condition that permits leadership to exist and gives it strength.” - Ira Chaleff

• Good followers never blame their bosses. They rarely blame their tools for non-performance. That doesn’t mean that they are ‘yes men’. They sort out privately whatever the differences and issues they have with their leaders.
• They never surprise their bosses. They keep them informed about the developments and the action taken. They continuously report with feedback and seek for directions and solutions.
• They don’t bother who receives credit for the good work done.
• They take initiative and fix the problems without blaming others.
• Humility is their hallmark.
• They are quiet doers and don’t make any noise about their achievements.
• They are passionate to learn and grow and are always eager to learn the ropes.
• They listen carefully and observe keenly.

In deference organizations, subordinates follow the orders of their superiors who in turn set examples to their followers and excelling as true leaders. However, we find few people in organizations who often blame their bosses and their organizations for all their problems. They rarely introspect and empathize. They prefer to criticize, condemn and complain against others. Such people cannot excel as good followers.

Followership and Leadership:

“The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point that they eventually surpass him or her in knowledge and ability.” - Fred A. Manske, Jr.

It is unfair to assume followers as weak individuals. They follow their leaders because of the values and ethics of leaders. They support because they are moved by the goals and objectives. It is also equally unfair to think that leaders are puppeteers and followers are puppets. In many cases leaders are also followers as they act as per the wishes of their followers. Followership is a relationship with reciprocal response from their leaders towards the goals. Both leadership and followership are inseparable. Once the goals are reached then the leadership separates with followership where followers carry certain takeaways to try and test as leaders.

As men appreciate women the leaders appreciate their followers. However, the appreciation between the leaders and followers is that of values and principles and goals and objectives.


"The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on." - Walter Lippmann

Followers are more loyal to their leaders than the leaders being loyal to their followers. In the history of mankind we rarely see followers letting down their leaders. However, we find a few leaders letting down their followers and falling into the dustbins of history.

To sum up, behind the success of all leaders there must be someone who laid the leadership ladder for success when they remained as good followers. Only good followers can excel as good leaders as they inculcate the qualities of leadership from their leaders.


Maddali Laxmi Swetha said...

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the oportunity in every difficulty.

Unknown said...

Excellent Article Professor Garu.

Vijay Donthi(Kentucky, US)

Unknown said...

It was very much delighted me by reading your articles...

Change is crucial but leads new thoughts,new thought leads to innovative actions - A P J Abul Kalam in Ignited Minds

Thank you very much
B MuniPraveen (SCDL student)

Maddali Laxmi Swetha said...

“Are You A Leader Or A Follower?” – Prof.M.S.Rao
this is the one of the best topic in this blog