The Critical Role of Followers in Society and Effective Leadership

Avery Emberly

Updated Wednesday, July 10, 2024 at 9:15 AM CDT

The Critical Role of Followers in Society and Effective Leadership

The Importance of Followers in Society

In today's fast-paced world, the emphasis often lies on becoming a leader. However, followers play an equally crucial role in society. Without followers, leaders would have no one to guide, and the balance of power would be disrupted. Followers are essential and needed in society to maintain harmony and ensure that objectives are met effectively.

Urging everyone to be leaders can lead to power struggles among young people. The pressure to stand out and lead can create unnecessary competition and conflict. For instance, a 15-year-old observer has noted that kids his age often fight to be the "main character" or to control others. This behavior can lead to a generation of self-centered individuals who struggle to admit when they are wrong, ultimately hindering personal and societal growth.

The Pitfalls of Overemphasizing Leadership

Encouraging everyone to be leaders may result in a generation of self-centered individuals who can't admit when they're wrong. This overemphasis on leadership overlooks the fact that some people lack the ability to lead effectively and should instead support those who can. Effective leadership involves positively affecting the conditions of followers, and not everyone is equipped to handle this responsibility.

Military leaders often follow the mantra "leaders eat last," prioritizing their followers' well-being over their own comfort. This principle underscores the essence of true leadership—putting others first. Unfortunately, poor leadership often results from individuals being in positions due to wealth or connections rather than ability. Such leaders fail to benefit their teams and often lead to organizational inefficiencies.

Qualities of Effective Leaders

Leadership qualities include integrity, mindfulness of the mission, and speaking out when something is wrong. True leadership is not limited to formal positions of power; anyone can demonstrate leadership qualities. Demonstrating these qualities fosters autonomy, trust, transparency, and ownership within a team or organization.

Followers who don't speak out or think for themselves give away their power. The message that everyone can be leaders is flawed because many people struggle with following, let alone leading. Leadership is not equivalent to power or prestige; it often involves thankless tasks and supporting others. True leaders are willing to defer to others and support their team, even if it means sharing the job.

The Value of Effective Followers

Effective leadership is about organizing and being aware of the wants and needs of others. People who can get things done without seeking attention are incredibly valuable. These individuals often serve as the backbone of any successful organization, ensuring that goals are met and that the team operates smoothly.

Leadership conferences and scholarships often result in too many people trying to steer the conversation, hindering progress. The presence of too many self-proclaimed leaders can stifle potential and productivity. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize and appreciate the role of followers in any organization or society.

In essence, while leadership is important, the role of followers cannot be understated. A balanced approach that values both leaders and followers is essential for the effective functioning of any society or organization. True leadership involves recognizing the strengths of others and working collaboratively to achieve common goals.

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