What’s So Bad About Being a Mere Follower?


Image from: jeffbullas.com

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.

So, what’s so bad about being a mere follower? Why isn’t anyone interested about it as people are in leadership?

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.

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. 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.

Even Christ said his glory came to Him through his followers.

And glory has come to me through them. [John 17.10]

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? And I’m beginning to see how the trainer is often the one really  being benefited in the relationship so that credit should belong to the trainee.

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.

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 you about your role as a follower. 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.

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

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 the 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 blessings, 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 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. 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.


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