There are many times where leaders have to follow. You’re just an attender, not the person in charge of the program or event. During those times, are you a good follower? Do you support the leader just as you would like to be supported if you were in charge? Here are some ways you can be a good follower:
- Verbally defer to the actual leader if people ask you a question or seem confused. Either tell the follower, “I don’t know, you should ask [the leader].” Or call to the leader and say, “[Follower] has a question; can you tell us how you’d like to do this?” This shows people that you are supportive of the leader and that you don’t need to be in charge. It also allows the leader to grow in his/her leadership ability instead of you taking over, intentionally or unintentionally.
- Show the same respect you would expect if you were in charge. Don’t start side conversations, don’t whisper, don’t check your phone. Pay attention to the leader, which will encourage others to do the same.
- Physically position yourself in a way that communicates your support and deference to the leader. This will vary with the situation, but don’t start the “peanut gallery” in the back or don’t sit in front like you’re the teacher’s pet and will answer all the questions. And watch your overall posture, because others will watching it as well, looking for cues about how to respond.
- Be on time, or even better, come early and offer your help beforehand, but then get out of the way. Stay late and again offer to help. Show that you are a team player and a servant.
How else can you be a good leader by being a good follower?