What’s Bad About Being Mere Follower?

Followers are often less busy and yet get things done. Leaders run around and make a big presence, and yet their success all depends on their followers. Ever heard of a seminar or course on good “followership?” Followerhip, says Google, is the capacity of a person to devoutly follow a leader. But all the seminars and courses are about good leadership. No wonder everyone wants to be a leader. And that makes them too busy to enjoy the simple things in life that matters.

So, I often ask, what’s bad about being a mere follower? Why isn’t anyone interested about it as people are in leadership? Being a mere follower takes so much stress off your shoulders and gives you more time for yourself. No pressure. No hassles. And less busy.

Probably because many people still believe organizations succeed because of good leadership. They add that good followership is the result of good leadership. But why can’t it be the other way around? For all we know, good leadership might be the result of good followership. After all, leaders only shine when their subordinates and followers light up the fire to their ideas.

I mean, no leader shone in history because their followers were lazy or were traitors to their cause. And definitely no leader became great because he was alone.

Followership Molds Leadership, Not the Other Way Around

I mean, who’d want to lead people who are only good at giving you headaches all your leadership term? No one would dream to be leader like that. They’d instantly give up without good followership. Even God kicked out Adam and Eve from Eden when they proved unfaithful and He was ready to destroy all the Israelites when they were unruly in the desert. All through the bible, God kept looking for good followership.

Even Christ said his glory came to Him through his followers. But this is all because in each follower is also found Christ Himself. Only God can strengthen God.

It’s a whole different with human leadership and followership. That’s why leaders often resign or give up when they see no sign of good following. But when good followers are there, leadership is inspired. In fact, they fight over leadership and sometimes even kill each other when they see great potential in the followership.

And maybe, this is why there are no seminars or courses on followership—because the problem is always mainly with leadership.

I often hear how someone has become so good at what he does because he was trained by so and so. Sometimes, I begin to wonder who was really benefited by whom? Who really received training? And sometimes I see how the trainer gets most of the benefits in the relationship so that credit should also be cited for the trainee. Trainees make trainers better.

Jesus said a student is not above his teacher. But if he is fully trained, he can be like him. The context was about how the blind could not lead the blind. Indeed, the teacher (leadership) should provide the spark. He cannot teach his student (followership) how to build a fire if he cannot provide the spark.

There wouldn’t be any success if in the end the followership gave zero performance. This is regardless of how great the leadership is. Only his student’s success can add a feather on the teacher’s cap. So he needs to provide the spark. But mere spark never leads to greatness. Only when the student is able to build fire from that spark will the teacher become great. And that spark won’t flicker unless at one time in his life, the leader also became a good follower.

True Potential is Seen in How Good a Follower You Are

People often measure your worth by the leadership roles you have played. When you’re up for a job interview or promotion, leadership roles you have handled before count a lot. They never ask or bother about your role as a follower. They miss a great deal when they do that. Hence, a lot of people look for ways to showoff their leadership skills, to the point of sometimes pissing off other people when they put themselves forward too much and stepping on others. No wonder there are rotten people in most offices. They all want to be leaders and bosses.

In the end, there are no good leaders but only good followers.

Followers as Mere Pawns

The worse idea about leadership is probably that followers are there to sacrifice for their leader. They have to do everything to make sure their leader succeeds—because their leader’s success is also their own, but which in reality seldom happens. Often, it’s all just a big joke.

Honestly, when leaders succeed, they alone reap the benefits of success, while followers remain as they are. Fans remain poor as their showbiz idols become richer as they grow more popular. Politicians increase in wealth once they rule in government while their constituents remain poor. Businesses increase in profits and get more capitalization for expansion while employees get minimal salaries and perks, if any. Even most church ministers improve in lifestyles as their churches grow big, while most of the members remain average-wage earners.

Their successes were mainly due to their followers’ performance. Here, you begin to understand more why God doesn’t want you glorying in your own achievements because there is no such thing. Achievements are always a corporate thing, with the followers—empowered by God—making it all possible.

Kingdom Leadership-Followership Principle

Jesus had a different leadership-followership mindset. He demoted himself for his followers. He made himself nothing. In fact, he sacrificed his life for them, even dying a shameful death. He left his Kingdom to empty himself and take the form of a slave, said Philippians. He stressed that the least among them shall be the greatest, and the greatest the least.

In other words, in the Kingdom and to Jesus, followers occupy a more conspicuous place in the Kingdom than leaders do. If you are a true Kingdom person, you’d value followership more than leadership. You’d desire more to be a good follower than a good leader. And you’d admire good followers more than you would good leaders.

Secular companies should recognize the value of their employees and patrons more than they value their executives. Without a good following down the hierarchy, those executives will be worthless. And I bet, they won’t have the inspiration to work, either. It’s really the followership that molds good leadership.

In the end, there are no good leaders. There are only good followers. And the big bonus is, followers get more free time so that they’re less busy and not forfeit themselves  of what really matters in life.

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