There are leaders and there are followers—and leaders that can follow and followers who can lead. I have experienced each of these four categories in my life. Because I am a leader, I have read many books focusing on the qualities and characteristics of good leaders. However, in all my years of reading and studying, I never came across a book on how to become a great follower—until now.
“The Courageous Follower: Standing Up to and for Our Leaders” by Ira Chaleff was a rare and unique find. This book would mobilize and galvanize any organization, if the culture of that organization would allow it to.
I am sure you have read a quote and thought, “EXACTLY”. Like a universal truth was perfectly captured and we all learned new language for it. Then there are other times when someone says something that is all together different from anything else we have ever heard. That is exactly what this author does, throughout the entirety of this book.
An example of a specific thing he said that I had never heard before is this: “The main difference between a leader and a follower is that the leader can externally articulate what the followers internally believe.” In other words, all of us (leaders and followers) believe in the vision. But, the leader has a unique ability to articulate externally what all of us hold deeply in our hearts. He goes on to say that if the leader can make the mission very clear for everyone, then the followers can contribute an equal or greater share than the leader.
One key point he makes is the necessity of the leader to communicate clearly. “When a common purpose guides both the leader and follower, control shifts from the leader to the purpose itself.” We probably have all witnessed an organization that is personality driven (leader) versus a purpose driven organization where everyone is empowered to contribute to the success of the mission. If this post inspires you, please pick up the book, “The Courageous Follower”. I don’t think you can hear what he has to say anywhere else.