Who Do You Follow?

Leadership starts by following others, learn to follow, master followership, learn to lead, master leadership

In the previous articles, I have stated that LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE. I learned this from reading John Maxwell books, and watching his talks. If there is one leadership expert that I would recommend, then John Maxwell would be it.

1. Why Do I Talk A Lot About Influence?

The reason I say leadership is influence on a lot of occasions is because I want it to stay in your mind. So if anyone asks you the question in the future “what is leadership?” you will be able to answer them.

Everybody in the world can influence a person, so therefore we all have the ability to be a leader. What type of leader do you want to be? What level of leader? At the moment in your current position and as part of your team, you are more than likely a follower. However, being a follower is a trait of being a highly effective leader.

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Allow me to explain.

It doesn’t matter if you are a team member working on a factory floor, or you are on the board of directors and you have your own office. If you choose to follow a person, you are a follower. The same applies, regardless of your position or authority, if a person chooses to follow you then you are a leader.

You can be both a follower and a leader at the same time. What is important though is, you can be a positive or negative follower, or you can be a positive or negative leader.

2. What Type Of Follower And Leader Are You?

I love to be a leader and a follower, no matter where I am in any organisation or what position I hold. You can be part of the two way street of leadership and followership. Following other members of your team will give them the chance to practice their leadership too.

A lot of people I have worked with, and more than likely you work with now do not want to be leaders, they just want to be followers. If you want to be a follower and not a leader then that is absolutely fine, as long as you work hard to be the best follower you can be.

However, ask yourself the questions “Why do I just want to be a follower?”, “Do I believe I can become a leader?” and “How much do I want to increase my influence?”

If you are reading this article, and my other articles, then I totally believe that you can become a leader and increase your influence. If you don’t believe that yourself, then you need to find out why, and why you wouldn’t want to increase your influence and your options.

3. You MUST Increase your Influence

A follower does influence other people but it is at a much lower level than a leader. If we think in terms of a scale from 1 – 10 for influence, then the follower would be towards the lower end of the scale, and the leader would be towards the higher end of the scale.

The bigger the impact that the leader has on his/her followers, then the bigger the impact the followers will have on the leader. A leader must have a vision, or know where they are going, they must know who they are, and they must have knowledge. It is these three things that attracts followers to the leader.

If one is missing then the leader will not have the right followers, they will only follow because they have to, not because they want to.

Followers who follow the leader because they have to will not have an influence on the leader, in fact they will have the opposite effect and wait for instructions, rather than being proactive. They would also have very little influence with their other team members, other than a negative influence.

If these followers are not careful, then their negative influence will spread across the team, and eventually the whole team will act in a negative manner. This includes the leader too.

Followers who follow the leader because they want to will definitely have a good and positive influence on the leader and their own team mates. They will even increase their influence with the wider teams in the department or organisation.

The impact of the follower on wider teams and other leaders can only enhance the output of the teams and the results of the organisation.

As a follower you will do a lot more with others than you will on your own.

4. How Does a Follower Increase Their Influence?

They add value to the organisation. Starting with their own leader, they do everything within their power to help their leader as much as possible. Going the extra mile and doing more than expected is how the follower can help the leader as much as they can.

They can also provide feedback on how things are going within the team and offer advice to the leader. The leader can then leverage their influence by praising the follower and highlighting them to the other leaders in the organisation. This will then resonate to other teams, who will then seek out the follower for their help too.

They value the organisation and the people within it. When valuing their organisation, this means people outside of their department (e.g. finance, commercial, and purchasing etc.). Showing respect to the other departments will definitely increase your influence as a follower, you will also receive respect too.

The person to value the most is the leader (Number 1 Customer). By doing your best every day for the leader and the team and increasing your quality of work each time, can only increase your influence in a very positive way.

They do their best to help other people to be their best. Building relationships with the team and throughout the organisation is how you increase your influence. A high influencing follower doesn’t just build relationships, they look to help others to succeed.

Especially the most that are in need of that help, not just the people they know or have the best relationships with. Ensuring that the team and beyond receive credit, rather than accepting the credit themselves. When the team as a whole takes the credit, the whole team’s influence will increase throughout the organisation.

They value the differences in each team member. Each team and each individual within a team have differences, and a high influencing follower embraces those differences and appreciates them. They are grateful to have these differences and supports every single member of the team.

Every person’s ideas are valued and listened to, and when an idea is pursued, it is a team effort, not an individual effort. It is definitely WE not ME.

They invest in themselves. A follower who has a high influence within the team and with their leader, really invests in their development and their personal growth. They are intentionally working hard on themselves to become influential leaders within their team, their organisation and in their own lives.

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Influential leaders strive towards a goal or a purpose, and that purpose will resonate with other people and eventually they will become their followers.

As a new leader, the following doesn’t stop. They will still be following those who have led and still lead them. The only difference is that they now have their own followers. This is when they have completed the journey from follower to leader and their influence will continue to increase and be leveraged by others.

Even though they don’t have a job position of leadership, they are still a leader. So it will not be long until they are made the offer by the organisation of a leadership position.

Only YOU can make a start on your leadership journey.

Only YOU can make you stop your leadership journey.

Only YOU can make you start again and continue on your leadership journey.

NEVER STOP!

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (Lead, Grow, Influence)

24 thoughts on “Who Do You Follow?

  1. What a nice post you wrote Tom! I really enjoyed reading it and could not be silent about your post so I decided to leave my comment here and say Thank You for sharing this quality post. Actually, I am a type that prefer to follow the others. Cause you know, I might just need to finish my works and follow what I want, no pressure, no worries abour the others, but I may change after reading your posts. Really chaging my mind.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      It’s absolutely fine to be a follower of the right person. I follow my mentor and a few other people that I love and learn from. We can be leaders also and still be followers. It’s great that you want to lead others too.

      If you need any further advice following reading my articles then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Wow! What a great article! In the business world we so often hear, “Either you are a leader or a follower”, which tends to cast the followers in a negative light. Your perspective is enlightening to say the least. The thought that the leader is nothing without his followers is spot on. And the view that you can be a leader and a follower at the same time? Also spot on. Most of us are. Thank you for helping me to see things from a different angle.

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      It’s great that you can see leaders being followers at the same time, that is what we are. Seeing things from a different angle is also amazing and if you need any further help then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Hi Tom,

    I have just read your article and I have to admit that I agree with you. What you have here, is an informative article that can be helpful to everyone that may come across it.

    Followers can be the one to be followed in the future, if continuing to learn from your articles, i believe.

    1. Hi Daisy,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found the article helpful.

      Followers can most certainly be the ones to become followed in the future, and they will be the leaders. You are absolutely right about that.

      If you need any further help or assistance with your leadership or personal growth then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. A great article about leadership.
    You are spot on about how everybody can influence somebody, simply by going out in public with my family, others are observing how my children are behaving and my leadership of them.

    1. Hi Justin,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased you found the article spot on.

      When you are with your children and your family then you are definitely in the leadership position. You can use leadership principles both in our professional and personal lives. Keep practicing your leadership in both.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Another great article Tom. This article speaks a lot of sense I’ve bookmarked this page. I’ve also enjoyed your YouTube channel which I’ve subscribed to

    1. Hi Russ,

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. Really pleased you found the article helpful.

      Thank you for subscribing to my YouTube channel too. I post new videos up on YouTube weekly so they will help you in your leadership, personal growth and influence.

      Keep returning, keep engaging, and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Interesting post men. By nature it is hard for leaders to be followers but I see the value of learning to follow in order to lead, as long as the person you are following and learning from is worth following and you can learn lessons to help with your leadership. Cheers

    1. Hi Robb,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased you found it helpful.

      Definitely the person who you follow MUST be worth following, and be a person you can learn from.

      Hopefully the person(s) you are following, you are learning a lot from.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Great post once again Tom. It’s a great topic and I do believe everyone can be a leader and follower.
    Majority of my career I’ve been following my management, I’ve progressed and now apart of the project management role, I am now a leader but I follow my managements leadership.
    If your not a leader at work then you can be a leader within your family. I’m now a proud father and you are propelled into a role of leadership, setting the right examples.
    As I’ve mentioned on another post, if you invest in people, they will invest in you.
    Thank you for another fantastic post.

    1. Hi Damon,

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      Thank you for sharing your experience in following your management and then progressing into a leadership role in projects. Very helpful.

      You are absolutely right that if you invest in your people, they will invest in you. This is what I preach every day.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. Hi Tom,
    Thank you so much for your post. I believe you shared some valuable information. I cannot agree more with the idea that you can be a leader and a follower at the same time. This is actually the secret to progress and always improve yourself.
    Kind regards,
    Yoana

    1. Hi Yoana,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found the article valuable.

      It’s great that you agree with being a leader and a follower. Keep working on yourself every day and help others to do the same as a leader.

      If you need any help or further advice then please don’t hesitate contact me.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Hi Tom,

    It amazes me whenever I read posts from others about the things that interest me. Your article happens to be one.

    Your question about who do I follow is thought provoking. I fancy myself as a follower. This puts me in a nonconfrontational position most of the time and I miss out on the rewards of risk taking and its responsibilities. But now, I’m realizing the value of good leadership as a skill to ‘lead’ others into buying my product.

    I haven’t studied John Maxwell, but I became inspired about this subject by Jacko Willink. He’s an ex navy SEAL and now he teaches leadership and has a great podcast. What you talk about in your post resonates with me. I agree that to be an effective leader, you need to be a good follower.

    I’ve worked for both good and bad managers, and the good ones earn my respect and my best efforts by applying the concepts you discuss in your article.

    Now it’s my turn to be my own boss. Its the lessons like yours that will help motivate me to better places.

    Keep up the good work, Tom and thank you for the lesson!

    Bob

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thank you for your comment and for your kind words. It’s great that you learned a lot from my article, it makes me feel great.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with good and bad managers, and you are quite right to respect your good managers.

      I’ve heard of Jacko Willink but I’ve not yet listened to his podcast. I’ll add that to my list of podcasts to explore.

      It’s great that my article resonates with you so please keep up the good work in your leadership and personal growth. If you need any further help then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. Hi Tom,

    This was such a powerful read for me. Your article makes me view leadership from a very different perspective now – ‘Leadership is Influence’, gets me thinking in a new way about what leadership is, and how I can apply this in a positive way at work.

    Also, I like what you have written about being a follower; how they can be leaders, and how being a follower could be positive or a negative thing – it’s all about being proactive.

    I shall be visiting again to re-read this and other posts here. There is so much value you provide in your posts which I personally relate to.

    Thank you for sharing so freely.

    1. Hi Ola,

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      It’s great that you are learning a lot more about leadership, and that leadership is influence. If you would like anymore help on leadership, personal growth and influence, then please visit my other articles. Or, get in touch if you have any questions.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. Hey,

    I like your definition of leadership as the same as influence, and the notion that a follower is also effectively a leader. I know that for a fact as I manage a team of six (in my day job), and when setting individual objectives one of the behaviours we look for is leadership since we don’t subscribe to the notion that people are born leaders but rather that leadership is developed and is integral to career progression and professional development.

    In turn I myself need to exhibit leadership traits and demonstrate that to my line manager if I must progress to the next level. So leadership is not something we demonstrate until we reach a certain position or are given a particular responsibility. You can practice it wherever you are.

    All in all I really relish the fresh perspective you put on this classic concept and I’m a fan of John Maxwell too.

    Well done. Keep the leadership ideas and content coming.

    Best regards
    Femi

    1. Hi Femi,

      Thank you for your thorough comment and your very kind words. It’s great that you found the article so valuable.

      Thank you for sharing your experience of leading a team of six. That is a good size team to lead and you will have plenty of room to practice your leadership skills, which it sounds like you are.

      Keep doing what you are doing, and keep learning and your line manager will see the improvements in your leadership.

      If you need any help or further advice then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  12. Great article Tom. I just subscribed to your mailing list. I am very passionate about personal development. I agree with you, we are both leaders and followers. Being an influencer is something that I am interested in growing. Looking forward to hearing your newsletters.

    1. Hi Jen,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable, and thanks for subscribing.

      Growing yourself into an influencer is tough, but it is definitely possible. I am on that path too, and we cannot give up on it because we know we have something great to offer the world.

      Keep returning, keep growing, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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