I had to check if there was such a word in the English language as ‘Followership’. It is rarely used and means ‘the ability or willingness to follow a leader’ (Websters).followership
There is no doubt that there is such a word as Leadership. We have built a science around it and have studied it from every possible angle. In the last 50 years I wonder how many books have been written, how many lectures and seminars and courses have been delivered, how many magazines and papers published, how many coaches and mentors hired and businesses formed all around the concept of Leadership? The world seems hungry to learn about leadership.
Yet, we do not often focus on the most important criteria for leadership which is to have followers or followership. Great leaders throughout the ages are remembered for how well they served their followers, inspiring victory of some kind that would not have been possible without their courageous leadership.

True leadership is all about followership

True leadership is actually not about the leader but is all about the followership.
What is that old proverb? “He who thinks he is leading but looks around and finds no one following is merely taking a walk”.

A great video on followership

There is a fantastic video on YouTube which someone has used to show the importance to a leader of gaining their first follower in order to start any kind of movement where a group of people are stirred to followership. If you don’t get the first follower then you will be just a crazy guy doing a dance connecting with no one.
Check it out:

How to develop followership?

Most of the best leaders I know spent a significant time serving another leader. I doubt there is a better way to learn the character and the skills required to become an outstanding leader than by being a loyal follower. While you are being the ‘first follower’ for someone you are serving there is a shaping and forming that happens on the inside of you.
It is good to have desire and dreams. However ambition can cloud the mind of the immature causing them think that leadership is about getting people to serve them, whereas it is entirely the opposite. Leadership is all about sacrificially serving the real needs of others.

10 qualities of a first follower in followership:

1. You want a better future – you are not content with the status quo but you are not negative and cynical either
2. You believe that you can be part of making it happen – you want to make a difference.
3. You have a desire for relationship and for community – you love to be part of what is happening
4. You know (maybe by painful experience) the sound and look of a genuine leader – someone with conviction of heart and clarity of vision with whom you can connect
5. You do not need a lot of convincing to step out and follow when you see someone doing something you like.
6. You do not expect perfection from a leader – you know to err is human
7. You don’t expect the leader to do it all – you know they are just the point person who leads the way.
8. You do expect conviction, honesty and courage from a leader – these are the qualities that bond followers to leaders.
9. You are willing to give loyalty to a leader if they stay true to themselves even when results are not happening yet.
10. You are willing and able to bring others with you

So, what do you think?
Is this a different angle on leadership?
Are you a leader or a first follower?
To what extent is a first follower the key to effective leadership?
Any comments?
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