Good leaders get good followers. Vulnerable leaders get susceptible followers. A good leader does self-introspection, can handle disagreements, and is not afraid to face real situations. Good followers are not afraid to deliver bad news. A destructive confidant is a leader's worst enemy. His flattery misguides the leader and isolates him from uncomfortable realities. A destructive confidante’s job is to continuously assure the leader that he is the fairest of them all. He makes sure that critical information does not get in and out of the leader. He desperately bids for power, side-lining the authority of the leader. Evidently, the attributes that make a good leader, make a good follower. Benjamin Disraeli said, “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”
The follower must be loyal to the leader, but his loyalty must not be blind. It must not stop one from being sensitive to other people’s needs and wants. A good follower tells the ugly truth to the leader, candidly and sensitively. The dynamics between leader and follower is changing, and with that, their expectations and the sense of empowerment is also changing. Followers don’t always try to ‘go along to get along’ with their leaders, even if that means risking their stature. In many networked organisations, it’s not always obvious who exactly is leading. An assembly of extraordinary minds, does it produce extraordinary pictures?
We evolved and with us evolved ideas. With the accumulation of ideas, both order and complexity arose, and that changed our surroundings. Social learning made us different from the other species. It taught us to choose the best option among the available alternatives. We copy people who we think are successful. We copy good ideas and we try to improve upon them. We have mastered the capacity to learn behaviours, simply by watching and imitating others. We can read the mind of others, and more often than not accurately. We possess the capability to choose and adapt. We try to do things differently. This has led to the evolution of ideas and cultural adaptation. There is no need for all to become leaders, nor are all capable of becoming leaders. We need good followers as much as we need good leaders. We need good copies as much as good originals. Leadership is not everyone’s cup of tea. Majority of us are followers. Our herd instincts are our assets. We like to follow, rather than lead. It is advantageous if only a few are leaders. Few things should remain hidden from the purview of the majority. There is no need to know everything. The paradox is that social learning has sculpted us to be very shrewd and intelligent at copying, but, perhaps, less adept at innovation and creativity. We want to be both innovators and copiers. We want to duplicate ideas, as well as create variety.