The concept of leadership is formally studied by three disciplines: sociology, anthropology and psychology. It’s a deep subject. Entire libraries of books have been published on what constitutes leadership and how to attain it and excel. Most major universities offer a Ph.D. program for the study of leadership.
A famous example is NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal. He completed a Ph.D. in education with a focus on leadership at Barry University.
Researchers who specialize in the study of leadership agree that before anyone can become an excellent leader, he or she must first be an excellent follower. To be a follower is to begin the journey toward becoming a leader.
The reasons for this are multifaceted. It is also well-defined and understood. A person who has been a good follower is one who has learned to pay attention to the opinion of a leader. They have mastered the process of interpreting the inputs they received.
The role of a follower is also a period where one nurtures and builds the quality of emotional intelligence. People who are not good followers tend to have lower emotional IQs. They either do not care about the opinions of others or easily disregard them.
When people with crippled emotional IQs and little interest in listening to others gain positions of leadership — and it does happen often — they tend to think of their employees as people as minions who must “obey” and “serve the needs” of the leader.
But a true leader knows that there a difference between his or her desires and practical tasks that must get done to make solid accomplishments. In short, learning to be a good follower is the “classroom” that transforms people into good leaders.
Furthermore, each good follower gains the skill to view leaders in their own way. This is the process by which you learn specifically what you must do when you achieve a leadership position. Following provides a way to discover the potential of a team so that you can then maximize the strengths of that team.
A great leader is a person who has mastered the art of motivating others to do and be their best. The best way to gain insight into how this is done is to draw upon one’s experience as a follower.