I just wrote about why and how you can help connect people to people in your community. Find this post by clicking on this link:
I just typed “leadership book” in the search bar on Amazon. I see there are at least 60,000 books I could purchase on this subject. I then just typed “follower book” and then “followership book”. Just over 10,000 results. Are you surprised? I’m not.
Here in the U.S., our culture places leaders on the pedestal. We flock to hear great leaders speak. Some of us purchase book after book to read what great leaders write. Podcasts abound from great leaders.
But what about being a great follower? Doesn’t that count for something? Shouldn’t it count? After all, every leader started as a follower.
“I bet we’d agree even the best leaders accomplish nothing without effective followers. If we agree followers are essential, why do so many people take being called a good follower as a criticism rather than as a compliment?” from Old School is Good School by Chief Master Sergeant Kevin Slater (U.S. Air Force).
A while ago, I was thinking about what it means to be a great follower. I have followed some great leaders. Cam taught me that there is always a way, an option, a solution – no matter what. That mindset has helped me more times in my life than I can count. From smuggling letters out of the former Soviet Union to helping my daughter with her history homework, I personally know that there is always a solution to big issues.
Chuck taught me that I can do anything I put my mind and my heart to. He gave me a shot in his company. I had zero experience, but he saw the potential. I learned and failed and kept on learning. I eventually took the job I had been given, whittled it from 40 hours/week to around 25-30 hours/week. I then was tasked to train my replacement who was given more responsibilities to fill that gap. Me? Oh, I was promoted to a management position.
Wayne taught me that anyone can conduct music. But a true conductor will get the most out of his musicians when he clearly communicates to pull from them their very best. I learned that it’s fun being a musician. But being a conductor allows you to create a musical experience and help others discover the beauty hidden beneath the notes and rests on the page.
None of these leaders coddled me in my developmental process. Far from it. They took me through what I now call the T.L.C. of being a great follower:
Think – Followers need to think, trouble-shoot, and solve problems. Most of the time, they are the closest to the action. You may not always get a “vote” in what goes on, but you certainly have a voice. Followers influence leaders!
Learn – Followers must learn new skills, learn how to communicate better with their teammates, learn what they are passionate about, and learn how their personal strengths add value to the team
Contribute – Followers must be active participants in their team’s/company’s success. There is no place for sideline observers on a winning team. Always look for ways to add value.
The leaders I named above expected this of me all the time. I’m glad they did. What I learned when I applied T.L.C. to my followership paved the path to my taking on leadership roles. I am forever grateful to these and other leaders who took me down this road.
Are you a follower? Great! Apply some T.L.C. to your journey. Who knows, perhaps you will soon be helping a follower under your leadership!
To learn more about James Clear and to order his book, Atomic Habits, follow this link: https://jamesclear.com/
Pablo Casals, the famous cellist, composer, conductor, once said (modified a bit):
“Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other person exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another person like you… You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. You must cherish one another. You must work—we must all work—to make this world worthy of each of us.”
Do you approach your day with this mindset? What would change if you did?
I’m inspired. Oh, how our world would change for the better if we all worked “to make the world worthy of each of us.”
You are a marvel.
I love to cook, and I love to create. I also love my wife very much! So I make her lunch on the days she goes into the office.
So today, I’m sharing a simple lunch salad recipe my wife loves. Why? We are called to serve others – for me, this starts at home.
Gourmet Chicken Salad by Jim Johnson
* 2 boneless, skinless grilled chicken thighs (or half of a chicken breast) – note: this is a great way to use leftover grilled chicken from the night before. I marinate mine in a sesame ginger marinade. I find this makes the best tasting chicken for the salad.)
* 5-7 green seedless grapes cut in half
* 1 Tbsp of a great relish – I use Sechler’s Hungarian sweet relish. It’s made about 40 minutes north of my city. Simply the best relish!
* 1 overflowing Tbsp of mayonnaise (use your favorite)
* iceberg lettuce chopped
* fresh spinach chopped
Putting it together: Simply mix the grapes, relish, mayo, and chopped chicken together. Place on the lettuce/spinach.
Try this easy and incredibly tasty salad.
In Shawn Achor’s book, Big Potential, he shares this sobering data:
“The average age of being diagnosed with depression in 1978 was twenty-nine. In 2009, the average age was fourteen and a half. Over the past decade, depression rates for adults have doubled, as have hospitalizations for attempted suicide for children as young as eight years old. What could possibly have changed so much to account for this?”
Achor points to rise of technology and social media. For kids, there is a never-ending need to announce accomplishments and the whirlpool of competition (from boyfriends to athletic prowess to stupid tricks to selfies) keeps spinning faster and faster dragging more and more people in. And then there is the pressure that continues to ramp up in schools and on the athletic fields and arts platforms. Better grades. Higher batting average. Flawless performances. Pressure! Pressure! Pressure!
For adults, it is not much different. Promotions, projects, and performance all set the stage for continual pressure points.
Achor’s challenge and call is for us to understand that our potential is “interconnected with others.” “We need to stop trying to be faster alone, and start working to become stronger together.”
Good words for today, right?
We are about to enter a time when we need each other more than ever. When the economy opens back up, we face choices. Everyone for themselves or everyone helping each other to recover. People want and need to get back on their feet. Each of us can help someone succeed. How?
- Be an encourager.
- Help someone find work.
- Listen to a hurting friend.
- Support a local business and encourage others to do the same.
- Celebrate someone else’s win.
“Because when we work to help others achieve success, we not only raise the performance of the group, we exponentially increase our own potential…making others better takes your success to the next level.”